Skin Cancer is the most common type of cancer in the world. There are several types of non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC):
Basal Cell Carcinoma:
Occurs in the lower most part of the surface of the skin. It usually develops in skin areas exposed to the sun. This cancer is very slow growing and usually does not spread to other parts of your body. About 75% of skin cancers are diagnosed as basal cell carcinoma.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma:
Occurs in the top layer of your skin. This cancer is also usually slow growing but left untreated could spread. Squamous cell carcinoma accounts for about 20% of diagnosed skin cancers.
Malignant melanoma is the 5th most common human malignancy and the most significant form of skin cancer. Annually over 13,000 melanoma patients are diagnosed in the UK. It is now the second most common cancer in people under the age of 50. If caught early, malignant melanoma can be cured by a very simple procedure but undiagnosed, it can spread causing mortality. Therefore public education for prevention and early detection is paramount.
Symptoms of non-melanoma skin cancers can include a lump or area of skin that does not heal. Squamous cell carcinoma may appear as a flat, scab-like lesion that does not heal. For melanoma look for a mole that is enlarging, particularly with irregular edges, multi coloured or one that is asymmetrical, itchy, crusted or painful, bleeding or looking inflammed.
To read about other rarer types of skin cancer, visit the MacMillan Cancer Support Website.
Causes of Skin Cancer
- A family history of skin cancer
- Sun damaged skin
- Having very fair skin (easily sun-burned)
- Regular use of sunbeds or sunlamps
- Excessive number of moles or freckles
If you have a sore or discoloured patch of skin that does not heal within 4 weeks, you should seek medical attention. If diagnosed and treated early, skin cancer is one of the easiest cancers to cure.