Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the US. Some skin cancers are more common or deadly than others. Basal and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common types of skin cancer, making up over 98% of all cases of skin cancer. They can be treated and result in less than 0.1% of patient deaths.
Another type of skin cancer is melanoma. It is much less common, but it is more likely to result in death. Like many cancers, the risk of melanoma increases with age.
Skin cancer of any type occurs more commonly in men than women and among individuals who have:
- Blonde or red hair, light eye color, and fair skin that freckles and sunburns easily
- A past history of sunburns or skin cancer
- A family history of melanoma
- Abnormal moles or more than 100 moles
- Used a tanning bed
Health care providers screen for skin cancers through a visual exam and the ABCDE signs of melanoma:
A = Asymmetry (one half of a mole does not match the other)
B = Border irregularity (edges of the mole are ragged, notched or blurred)
C = Color (pigmentation of the mole is not uniform, with varying degrees of tan, brown or black)
D = Diameter of more than 6mm, about the size of a pencil eraser
E = Evolving (the mole is changing over time)
If you are concerned about a spot or notice any changes to your skin, call your health care provider.
At your appointment, tell them about your risk factors for skin cancer, any changes in appearance of moles, past history of sunburns or skin cancer, a family history of skin cancers or melanoma, and use of tanning beds.