Skin Cancer : Prevention, Treatment & Care

Skin Cancer Types

Facts & Stats

Related Conditions

Skin Cancer FAQ

What is Skin Cancer?

  • Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer
  • Skin cancer can almost always be cured when detected early.
  • There is about a 50% chance that a person will develop at least one skin cancer by the time that they are 65 years old.
  • The majority of skin cancers develop in those that are 50 or older.
  • Those with a lighter skin tone are more susceptible to developing skin cancer.

What does Skin Cancer look like?

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. Thankfully, unlike most cancers, you can see the cancer before it becomes dangerous and spreads to other parts of the body. Also important is the fact that when detected early, almost all cases of skin cancer can be completely cured.

The skin can develop many non-cancerous lesions that may resemble skin cancer, and most of the time, they are in fact, not dangerous. However, it is important that you visit a dermatologist. Remember that early detection will almost certainly save your life, and a proper test by a doctor can ease a lot of fears if the lesion turns out to be harmless. There are 3 general types of skin cancer.

Follow these links to view the images and descriptions:

  1. Basal Cell Carcinoma
  2. Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  3. Malignant Melanoma

What is Actinic Keratosis?

Actinic keratosis is a precancerous lesion that can later develop into a cancer called Squamous Cell Carcinoma. While the chances of changing into this malignant tumour is at 5 to 10%, there is no reliable method that predicts which ones will become cancerous later. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that actinic keratosis be properly treated while it is still benign.

Some researchers believe that actinic keratosis ought to be thought of as the first stage of squamous cell carcinoma that has not yet invaded surrounding tissue (in-situ), rather than a type of pre-cancerous tissue. Read more about actinic keratosis.

How is Skin Cancer Diagnosed?

Skin cancer is often diagnosed first by clinical observation. Many skin cancers have unique clinical features, the most well known, the ABCDE's of skin cancer.

Asymmetry, Border, Color, Diameter, and Evolution are features that can be used to identify skin cancer from similar but harmless growths such as moles or benign nodules. If there is suspicion of a growth, a doctor may take a biopsy, and test the results.

I just got a skin cancer diagnosis, and I feel nauseous with anxiety. Please help.

Any cancer diagnosis can be frightening. Arming yourself with knowledge can alleviate a lot of the fear and anxiety. First, don't panic. Skin cancer has one of the highest cure rates of all cancers. A very large majority of those with skin cancer are cured. Skin cancer is not a death sentence. Before you visit your doctor, have a list of questions that you would like to ask written down on paper. This will help you collect your thoughts during the interview, and make the most use of the meeting. Have a family member or a loved one visit the doctor with you if this is possible. It is always nice to have loving support. Finally, don't be afraid to ask for a second opinion.

My family has a history of skin cancer. How can I stop this?

It is true that skin cancer does tend to occur in families. It is true that some genetic make-ups are more vulnerable to developing skin cancer than others. If you have a family history of skin cancers, you are probably more likely than average to be susceptible to skin cancer development. Consider this knowledge a blessing, and change your lifestyle to reduce your relative risk of developing skin cancer. Sun protection is both widely available, and far more effective than in the past, and public awareness about the dangers of UV exposure have increased in the last few decades.

If you are a smoker, or work in an environment where you are exposed to smoke, change this, as it is also another major risk factor. Remember that while skin cancer does have a genetic component, a major part of the risk comes from your lifestyle choices.


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