Skin cancers


What are the different types of skin cancer?

See detailed information on skin cancers

How common is skin cancer?

The incidence of both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers has been increasing over the past decades. Currently, between 2 and 3 million non-melanoma skin cancers and 132,000 melanoma skin cancers occur globally each year. One in every three cancers diagnosed is a skin cancer and, according to Skin Cancer Foundation Statistics, one in every five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

As ozone levels are depleted, the atmosphere loses more and more of its protective filter function and more solar UV radiation reaches the Earth's surface. It is estimated that a 10 per cent decrease in ozone levels will result in an additional 300,000 non-melanoma and 4,500 melanoma skin cancer cases. The global incidence of melanoma continues to increase – however, the main factors that predispose to the development of melanoma seem to be connected with recreational exposure to the sun and a history of sunburn. These factors lie within each individual's own responsibility.

Who is most at risk of getting skin cancer?

Due to their relative lack of skin pigmentation Caucasian populations generally have a much higher risk of getting non-melanoma or melanoma skin cancers than dark-skinned populations. Naturally brown and black people (skin types V, VI – see table) can usually safely tolerate relatively high levels of sun exposure without getting sunburnt or greatly increasing their skin cancer risk. In contrast, people with pale or freckled skin, fair or red hair and blue eyes belong to the highest risk group (skin types I, II); people with dark hair and eyes who do not normally get sunburnt are at medium risk of developing skin cancer (skin types III, IV). Nevertheless excessive exposure to intense sunlight can damage all skin types - the risk of eye damage and heat stroke is the same for everyone!

Some individual risk factors for skin cancer


Skin type classification Do you burn in the sun? Do you tan after having been in the sun?
I Always Seldom
II Usually Sometimes
III Sometimes Usually
IV Seldom Always
V Naturally brown skin
VI Naturally black skin

How can I protect myself against skin cancer?

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