Accounting for nearly half of all cancers in the United States, skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. Each year, more than 2 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer are found in the US alone.
The disease occurs in two main forms, the generally common non-melanoma skin cancer, and the less common but more aggressive melanoma skin cancer.
Non-melanoma skin cancerNon-melanoma skin cancer refers to a group of skin cancers that affect the upper layers of skin. The term 'non-melanoma' distinguishes these generally more common kinds of skin cancer from the less common, aggressive skin cancer known as melanoma. Basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer are classified as non-melanomas. They are named after the type of cell where they usually start. Most non-melanoma skin cancers develop on sun-exposed areas of the body, like the face, ear, neck, lips, and the backs of the hands. Depending on the type, they can be fast or slow growing, but they rarely spread to other parts of the body.
Non-melanoma skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the world. There are an estimated 100,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer every year in the UK (www.nhs.uk). Basal cell carcinomas account for around 80% of all cases of skin cancer, while squamous cell carcinomas account for 10%.
Melanoma skin cancerMelanoma is a cancer that begins in the melanocytes – the cells that produce the skin colouring or pigment known as melanin. Melanin helps protect the deeper layers of the skin from the harmful effects of the sun. Melanoma is almost always curable when it is found in its very early stages. Although melanoma accounts for only a small percentage of skin cancer, it is far more dangerous than other skin cancers and causes most skin cancer deaths.
Melanoma will account for more than 75,000 cases of skin cancer in 2012. It accounts for almost 9,000 of the nearly 12,000 skin cancer deaths each year worldwide. (www.cancer.org)
Risk factors for non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers include
- Unprotected and/or excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation (sunlight or tanning booths)
- Pale complexion (difficulty tanning, easily sunburned, natural red or blond hair colour)
- Occupational exposures to coal tar, pitch, creosote, arsenic compounds, or radium
- You or other members of your family have had skin cancers
- Multiple or unusual moles
- Severe sunburns in the past
For more info on this go to: http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerCauses/SunandUVExposure/skin-cancer-facts