Skin cancer is one of the most prevalent cancer cases diagnosed around the world each year. In the US it is the most common cancer diagnosed, with more cases of skin cancer diagnosed each year than breast, prostate, lung & colon cancers combined. However, if caught early, it is one of the most treatable cancers with one of the highest survival rates. The most important aspect about skin cancer is how preventable it actually is. Many of the skin cancer cases diagnosed could simply be prevented by protecting the skin from excessive UV exposure, either from the sun or indoor tanning devices.
Skin cancers are generally split into melanoma skin cancer & non-melanoma skin cancer. Non-melanoma skin cancers are the most common type. The two main types of non-melanoma skin cancers are Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) & Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) with other rarer types making up only about 1% of skin cancers diagnosed in the UK. Invasive melanomas only make up about 4% of all diagnosed skin cancer cases, but they account for the vast majority of deaths from skin cancer as they are the most likely to spread to lymph nodes or other organs.
Compared to most other cancer types, skin cancer is quite common in younger people even though it is most prevalent in older people. Before the age of 50 incidence rates are higher in women than in men. By age 65 however, rates in men are double those in women & by age 80 they are triple in men. This pattern may be attributed to differences in occupations & recreational exposure to UV rays based on sex & age. Early detection practices & use of health care may also have an influence. In the UK, seven people die from skin cancer a day, making it one of the fastest rising malignancies, especially in the 18 to 35 age group.