There are two main types of skin cancer, melanoma & non-melanoma skin cancer. Non-melanoma skin cancers are the most common type of skin cancer. However, as they are not required to be reported to cancer registries the actual incidence & mortality statistics available are best estimates & not always up to date. The most common non-melanoma skin cancer types are basal cell carcinoma (BCC) & squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which together account for about 90% of skin cancers. Melanomas make up about 4% of all diagnosed skin cancer cases but account for most skin cancer deaths.
Skin cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers diagnosed around the world each year. In the US it is the most common cancer diagnosed, more than breast, prostate, lung & colon cancers combined. In the UK it is one of the fastest growing malignancies, especially in the 18 to 35 age group. If caught early, however, skin cancer is one of the most treatable cancers, with survival rates at about 90%.
The most important fact to remember for skin cancers is how preventable they are. The best treatment is prevention. In the UK alone 86% of skin cancer cases could have been prevented with better skin protection from UV rays. You should avoid direct sun exposure when it is at its strongest & most dangerous, between 11 AM & 3 PM. It is important when you are exposed to the sun to protect your skin with light, long sleeve clothing & hats. Make sure any exposed skin has sunscreen applied, since daily use of an SFP 15 or higher sunscreen can reduce the risk of melanoma by 50%. Sunscreen should be applied 15 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun & reapplied every two hours & immediately after swimming & towel drying.
With such a high prevalence, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many celebrities have suffered from skin cancer. From actors like Ewan McGregor, to musicians like Michael Jackson, reality stars like Khloe Kardashian, to athletes like Troy Aikman & even politicians, the disease, as all cancers, is indiscriminate of wealth & status & can strike anyone. Many celebrities who have survived skin cancer have chosen to be open & honest about their experiences in order to inform others of the risks & to encourage people to get checked early & often.