Skin cancer is the term that is used for all bad forms of growth of the skin. In everyday use, people often talk about melanoma, but there are other forms of skin cancer, too. These are usually named after the type of cell that grows uncontrollably. Most skin cancers develop in the epidermis. Very often a tumor can be seen, so it is often possible to detect skin cancer at an early stage. Very few people with skin cancer will die of the disease., though it can be disfiguring. Melanoma survival rates are poorer than for non-melanoma skin cancer, although when melanoma is diagnosed at an early stage, treatment is easier and more people survive.
Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer. Melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers combined are more common than lung, breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer. Melanoma is less common than both basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, but it is the most serious — for example, in the UK there were over 11,700 new cases of melanoma in 2008, and over 2,000 deaths. It is the second most common cancer in young adults aged 15-34 in the UK. Most cases are caused by over-exposure to UV rays from the sun or sunbeds. Non-melanoma skin cancers are the most common skin cancers. The majority of these are basal cell carcinomas. These are usually localized growths caused by excessive cumulative exposure to the sun and do not tend to spread.
- National Cancer Institute - Common Cancer Types (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/commoncancers)
- CancerStats - Skin cancer survival, Cancer Research UK
- CancerStats - Skin Cancer statistics UKCancer Research UK
- Two young adults diagnosed with skin cancer each day, Cancer Research UK press release, 6th April 2011