One in three cancers diagnosed is skin cancer. Melanoma skin cancer is the most serious type as it can spread to other organs very rapidly. There is a good chance that skin cancer can be cured if diagnosed and treated early.
Certain factors make skin cancer more likely but the main risk factor for any type of skin cancer is exposure to the intense ultraviolet light of sunshine. Other factors that may increase your risk of skin cancer include:
There are different types of non-melanoma skin cancer including those described below.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
Also known as a rodent ulcer, this is the most common form of malignant skin cancer in people with white and fair skin. It is rare in people with dark skin. BCC on the face may erode and damage your nose or one of your ears.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
This is the second most common malignant skin cancer in people with white and fair skin. Again, it often occurs on areas that are exposed to the sun. A SCC can spread into the surrounding skin, and potentially to other parts of the body but this is not common.
Melanoma skin cancer (malignant melanoma)
Melanoma affects slightly more women than men. Melanoma is uncommon in people with dark skin. Treatment Treatment will depend on a number of factors such
as your age and whether the cancer has spread and if so, how far. Your doctor will advise you on which treatment is best for you.
Your doctor will remove the cancer and some of the normal skin surrounding it. Skin cancers such as BCC and SCC can also be destroyed by freezing them with liquid nitrogen. SCCs can be removed by other methods including using a drug called imiquimod (Aldara).
Treatment following surgery
Surgery may occasionally be followed by a course of radiotherapy, or you may have this instead of surgery. The doctor may recommend interferon alfa-2b after
surgery if there is a strong chance that your cancer will come back after surgery.
This is an extract taken from Bupa International and sent to us by STM Nummos Life (STM Nummos is a separate company)