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Skin Cancer Facts

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

Basel Skin Cell Cancer

Basel Skin Cell Cancer

Three types of Malignant Skin Cancer

Knowing skin cancer facts can save your life. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. They typically occur due to exposure to sun rays. Below are three of the most common types of skin cancer, each with unique characteristics:

  1. Basal cell cancer: Translucency is a keyword for this type as it often has a translucent to flesh type color, and it is the most treatable type of skin cancer. It is usually a raised bump and may have tiny visible blood vessels. They tend to form on the most common places of sun-exposed skin, like the face, neck, arms, shoulders and head. Many people mistake it for a sore that just won't heal. This type affects two million Americans a year. Most of the time it can be removed without even leaving a scar.
  2. Squamous cell carcinoma: This type presents as a crusted red or scaly patch or bumps, which is a very rapidly growing tumor and pain is a common characteristic. Bleeding and ulceration may occur and others may form a hard nodule. If left untreated it may form a large mass, however, it is treatable and not as serious as melanoma.
  3. Melanoma carcinoma: This is the most serious skin cancer. Its appearance is asymmetrical, having an irregular border. The color (but usually brown to black) may vary and it is often greater than 6 mm in diameter. However, some are red, pink or fleshy colored and are referred to as amelanotic melanomas. They are more aggressive and may appear to be an atypical mole. If caught early it is treatable but while it is not the most common skin cancer, it causes more deaths. Sometimes it may appear on your head, in your hair or maybe on the back of your thigh, so it is not always caught early. Seeing a dermatologist for any unusual skin disease is essential. In 2010, the American Cancer Society reported about 68,130 melanomas were invasive, with about 38,870 in males and 29,260 in women.
Melanoma Carcinoma

Melanoma Carcinoma

CDC Melanona Facts through 2009

The CDC reported the number of skin cancers In 2017:

  • 76,665 people in the United States were diagnosed with melanomas of the skin, including 45,402 men and 31,263 women
  • 9,324 people in the United States died from melanomas of the skin, including 6,161 men and 3,163 women

Stages of Melanoma

  • Stage 1: The melanoma is fairly thin and appears to be localized in the skin, which means it has not spread to lymph nodes or organs.
  • Stage 2: It is thicker than Stage 1, but localized in the skin and not found in the organs or lymph nodes.
  • Stage 3: The melanoma has spread to the lymph nodes near the affected area but has not spread to the organs.
  • Stage 4: The melanoma has spread to lymph nodes and organs, such as the lungs or liver.

The 4 Stages of Melanoma: The Deadliest Form of Skin Cancer - Mayo Clinic


This most serious form of cancer is treatable when caught early but it can advance to other parts of the body where it can be very difficult to treat. It originates in the melanocytes, which are the cells that produce the pigment melanin which colors your skin, hair and eyes.

Until a year ago the doctors only had two drugs approved for stage IV metastatic melanoma. The FDA has approved a new drug for the treatment of inoperable or advanced melanoma called Zelboraf, which has been found to delay the disease progression and extend the life of the patient significantly. This is the first drug of its kind.

Intraocular Melanoma

Intraocular Melanoma

Intraocular Melanoma

This year, an estimated 3,540 adults (2,130 men and 1,410 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with primary Intraocular Melanoma.

It is estimated that 350 deaths (190 men and 160 women) from this disease will occur. This disease begins in the tissues of the eye, in the middle of the three layers of the eye. The five-year survival is 80 percent after diagnosis.

While this is a rare cancer, it is the most common eye cancer in adults.

Age and sun exposure may increase the risk of developing this cancer. Risk factor includes:

  • Older age
  • Being white
  • Having light skin, or green or blue eyes.
  • Being able to tan

Obviously, these are not things that we can change. Research has proven the usefulness of using protective sunscreen, wearing hats and wearing sunglasses to reduce your risk of cancer,

There may not be any early symptoms but often this cancer may be found in an eye exam. Symptoms you should pay attention to are a dark spot on your iris, blurred vision, a change in the shape of your pupil or a change in your vision.

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The prognosis is good if the small tumors have not spread, then they can be cured and your vision will be saved. The optometrist uses a staging process to determine if cancer has spread to other parts of the body, as it may spread through the lymph system, through tissue or through the blood.

This cancer may reoccur after it has been treated. Treatments vary according to the degree of cancer, which may vary from minor surgery, radiation to enucleation.

Sunscreen in a Pill

Researchers are using an ingredient in Australia's Great Barrier Reef to uncover the genetic and biochemical processes behind the coral's natural defenses against the sun's harmful rays. The King's College London team will first create a lotion, then a pill with the hope that the pill will be available in 5 years.

Mayo Clinic Minute: 3 Types of skin cancer

Prevention is the Key

  • Seek shade, particularly between 10 Am and 4 PM.
  • Liberally use sunscreen that protects you against UVA and UVB rays. Reapply every 2 hours.
  • Do Not Burn!
  • Avoid tanning booths and beds.
  • Use a broad-brimmed hat. and sunglasses.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun.
  • Examine your skin for your head to your toes at least monthly and see a dermatologist for any new growth or discoloration.

In Summary

Knowing the skin cancer facts can prevent skin cancer which is very treatable when caught early and knowledge is power. Being aware of skin cancer signs is very important.

Again prevention is the most important aspect, as skin cancer is very common, particularly basal cell cancer. Follow the steps of prevention to remain free of the disease.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 20, 2015:

rawspirit, Thank you so much for your comments. I wish you a blessed day to start the new week.

Robert Morgan on July 09, 2015:

Absolutely... Have a blessed evening.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on July 09, 2015:

Rawspirit, Surviving a serious disease always seems to make us want to learn more, and definitely prevent it from happening again. Thank you for your comments.

Robert Morgan on July 08, 2015:

Thank you for this very informative article. I have also studied skin cancer and being a cancer survivor, I am always looking for good solid information. Thanks again.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 07, 2011:

Barbsbitsnpieces, I'm glad to hear you are a survivor and I appreciate your comments.

Barbara Anne Helberg from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA on October 06, 2011:

@Pamela99...Good information!

I'm a melanoma survivor, but didn't know about the liver connection and never had a doctor suggest that testing. So, thanks for a good job on this Hub!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 26, 2011:

Mekenzie, My husband got a basal cell cancer on his arm and ignored it for quite a while. By the time he found out it was cancer they really had to removed quite a lot of tissue so he has a big scar but luckily it hadn't spread. It is great that your beautician noticed yours. I would have sent flowers also. Thank you for telling us your situation and for your comments. God Bless.

Susan Ream from Michigan on September 26, 2011:

Pamela, Very informative hub. I had basil cell on top of my head when I was in my 30's. As a child and teen I spent all summer swimming on our lake. I have fair skin, was very blonde and have blue eyes .. so I am predisposed to skin cancer. A beautician found the basil cell and advised me to check it out - it had grown for years. They got it all - and it never came back - scarey time for our family. I sent her flowers after the surgery and will always be thankful for her.

I hope this hub will help others take skin abnormalities seriously.

God Bless,


Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 24, 2011:

PhoenixV, A hat is a great idea. Thank you for your comments.

PhoenixV from USA on September 24, 2011:

I had to get a couple of basal cells removed from my face recently. Thanks for the reminder to stay out of the sun. I am fair skinned and love being outside, I have been wanting to get light colored broad rim hats of some kind. Thanks great and informative hub. Voted up !

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 24, 2011:

Mar, I certainly appreciate your very nice comments.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on September 24, 2011:

Voted UP & UABI, Pamela... so important to have this valuable information shared in an understandable and accurate manner. Thank you for this service to all of us/ our loved ones.

Have a beautiful weekend, mar.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 18, 2011:

hottomodify, I appreciate your comments.

inaniLoquence, While it sounds like it might be a cyst, I would probably see a doctor, as there is no way I could know that for sure. I appreciate the comment.

acaetnna, I am glad you found the hub helpful. Thanks for your comments.

acaetnna from Guildford on September 18, 2011:

Such an important subject Pamela and you have explained in such complete detail about this very necessary subject. Skin cancer is definitely on the increase and you have explained the signs to look out for. Thank you so much, we certain all need to be aware and be vigilant with regards to sun protection.

inaniLoquence from Singapore on September 17, 2011:

Pamela, very informative hub. I do have a question. I found this very tiny pellet that I can roll on my fingers located just above my collarbone. It does not protrude but it's definitely there. Is this the start of a cyst?

howtomodify from usa on September 17, 2011:

very nice gud keep it up and thanks to comments to my hubs

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 15, 2011:

drpastorcarlotta, My husband had the same thing happen, but after it was removed he has had no further problmes. Thank you for your comments.

Pastor Dr Carlotta Boles from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC on September 14, 2011:

Interesting, my husband had a sore that wouldn't heal and it was skin cancer! I love to visit your informational Hubs! Thank you! Voted-Up!!!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 14, 2011:

vocalcoach, I think many people are in your position as we just didn't know years ago the importance of not getting sunburned. At least you're doing the right thing by seeing a specialist every six months since skin cancers that are caught early are very treatable. Thank you so much for your comments.

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on September 13, 2011:

Pam - I am high risk for skin cancer. In my youth, the only thing we "beachers" used was baby oil and I spent most of my life at the beach. I see a specialist about every 6 months and have had some mom cancerous growths removed. How I wish with all my heart, that the above information would have been available to me back then.

An excellent and very informative hub, Pam. Rated Up, useful, interesting and awesome!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 13, 2011:

Om Paramapoonya, I'm sorry to ruin you appetite! :-)) It is important to know the sign of skin cancer so I am glad you found the hub useful. Thank you for your comments.

Pam Pounds, I appreciate your comments.

Pam Pounds from So Cal Girl in the Midwest! on September 12, 2011:

Interesting hub with good info. Thank you.

Om Paramapoonya on September 12, 2011:

Wow, I was enjoying my snack when I came across this hub, and these photos ruined my appetite right away. These facts about skin cancer are very interesting, though. I always learn something worthwhile from your hubs. Thanks, Pamela!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 12, 2011:

Dallas, I hope you and your mother fully recover. Thanks for your comments.

Dallas W Thompson from Bakersfield, CA on September 12, 2011:

Great article with great information. It may save some one's life. It too have written an article about melanoma. I have had it as has my mother:


Flag up and awesome!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 12, 2011:

Hello, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and thank you for your comments.

BPOP, I'm glad to hear that. I appreciate your comments.

breakfastpop on September 12, 2011:

This is a very important piece, Pamela and I thank you. I am calling my dermatologist for an appointment today!

Hello, hello, from London, UK on September 12, 2011:

Brilliant hub and very informative. Thank you, Pamela.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 12, 2011:

Sandyspider, Thank you for your comment.

Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin, USA on September 11, 2011:

Very informative information on skin cancer.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 11, 2011:

craftdrawer, I am so sorry to hear about your father. Thanks for the link and the comments.

TheManWithNoPants, Make sure you check your body monthly for any unusual changes in your skin as the cancer's are curable when they are caught early. Thanks for your comment.

TheManWithNoPants from Tucson, Az. on September 11, 2011:

Pamela, I really didn't want to read this. I'm a blond haired blue eyed German with 1/5 Wichita Indian blood. Being an old surf bum,I've spent my entire life in the sun. I didn't know age had anything to do with it. Dang! I ain't no pup these days!


craftdrawer on September 11, 2011:

Also remember to protect your eyes with the right sunglasses even in winter. My dad passed away from Melanoma of the eye. They removed his eye where the cancer was but it had already spread to stage four. Great article Read more about Melanoma of the eye

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 11, 2011:

Happyboomernurse, I'm glad the hub was helpful to you and thank you so much for your comments.

Anginwu, I agree with you completely and I appreciate your comments.

anglnwu on September 11, 2011:

Very useful information. It is best to practise sun protection when out and about. We live in a culture where a tan is perceived as desirable but the cost of radiation is way too serious to ignore. Rated up.

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on September 11, 2011:

Excellent hub with great pictures and clear, concise information. I learned several things I didn't know before such as the information about the intraocular melanoma and amelanotic melanomas. I also enjoyed the give and take on the comments and was surprised by how many have said they or a spouse have been diagnosed with skin cancer.

I had a basal cell lesion removed from my left cheek about 25 years ago, use sun screen and try to take my beach walks in the morning or evening to limit sun exposure. I've heard that the sun screen can cause other types of cancer but agree that in the summer months when temperatures are in the 90's it's not practical to wear long sleeves and pants.

Thanks for sharing this important information. Voted up, useful and interesting.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 11, 2011:

hafeezm, I appreciate your comments.

JY, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. Thanks for your comments.

Cloverleaf, I appreciate your comments.

Louise from Calgary, AB, Canada on September 11, 2011:

Thank you for sharing this, Pamela, it is very informative.


John Young from Florence, South Carolina on September 11, 2011:

You refreshed my memory on some things I had forgotten Pam, but I haven't been around the medical field in quite some time. Good hub!

hafeezrm from Pakistan on September 11, 2011:

A good and informative hub. Thanks for sharing.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 11, 2011:

drbj, I see a lot of beach lovers here also. Thanks for your comment.

drbj and sherry from south Florida on September 10, 2011:

Excellent research and information that is well-presented, Pamela. In my area, south Florida, skin cancer is not uncommon since so many sun-lovers spend so much of their time basking in those potentially harmful rays. You have done us a service with this hub. Brava!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 10, 2011:

stars439, I appreciate your comments. God bless you also.

always exploring, Thank you so much for your comments.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on September 10, 2011:

Thank you Pam. A very well written article. The info. can be life-saving.....

stars439 from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State. on September 10, 2011:

Thank you for sharing this important information. God Bless You.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on September 10, 2011:

noviascotiamiss, You have obviously had very personal experience with melanoma and know a lot more than the average person. I am glad your husband survived. I live in northern FL near the beach and the people here will not wear long sleeve shirts and pants in 100° weather, so finding the healthiest lotion is the best we can hope for as even riding in the car you are going to get some sun. I don't go out of the house without sunscreen on my face and arms and I don't go to the beach either. Thanks for your comments and recommendations.

Cardisa, Thank you so much for your comment. I use a 60 or 70 as I have lupus and am not suppose to be in the sun.

RTalloni, I didn't know that the liver wasn't checked with melanoma. I agree that changing doctors would be appropriate. Also, I see a retinal specialist as I have a small growth on my eye called a nevus which is usually benign. They have watched me very closely over the last 4 years and luckily and the size hasn't changed fortunately so I finally don't have to be concerned. I appreciate your comments.

Will, I have also had 2 small precancerous lesions removed but not one that required a skin graft. It is difficult to keep your face completely out of the sun and being light skinned does make your risk higher. Thanks for sharing your experience.

SusieQ42, I am glad you enjoyed the hub and hope your daughter does also. Thanks for your comments.

SusieQ42 on September 10, 2011:

Interesting hub. My daughter would like to read this; she's a nursing student. I'll facebook it so she'll see it. Thanks. Susieq

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on September 10, 2011:


I am fair skinned, and I have had many precancerous lesions removed from my face, and one basal cell carcinoma on the tip on my nose. That required a skin graft, so see a dermatologist as soon as you see a suspicious spot, and take turns looking each other over.

RTalloni on September 10, 2011:

Great heads up Pamela. novascotiamiss makes some very important points. Sharing info is one of the best aspects of HP.

Another point is that dermatologists do not consistently screen liver health of patients diagnosed with melanoma. That screening should always be done and if your derma guy won't do it, find one who will if you have been diagnosed with melanoma. Getting an initial liver scan is important in case a problem develops in the future. It's criminal that they don't all do it with every melanoma, particularly when they "prescribe" the sun screens that can create other problems.

Regular eye exams are extremely important. People to see an ophthalmologist for exams even if they do not think their vision is changing because this doctor screens for other diseases that do not always show early symptoms, such as you mention at the end of your hub.

Carolee Samuda from Jamaica on September 10, 2011:

A sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher is recommended depending of lightness of skin. The lighter the complexion the high the SPF recommendation. A very enlightening hub on skin cancer. Thanks Pamela.

Novascotiamiss from Nova Scotia, Canada on September 10, 2011:

Pamela, thanks for another interesting hub. My husband survived a four stage malanoma (usualy deadly) and we therefore research a lot on the topic. Like many patients, he was young and ignorant and the skin cancer only got noticed after years, when it started bleeding and when it was almost too late. I only partly disagree with you re. 1 point. The best way not to get burned if you have to go outside in broad sunlight is by wearing long shirts and pants and wide-brimmed hats with UV protection, and not the excessive use of suntan lotion. Re-applying suntan lotion does not necessarily prevent you from burning as your skin can only absorb a certain amount of UV rays per day. Also, suntan lotions themselves are highly controversiol, as there is no internationally recognized standard in connection with UV factors, and most products are therefore free to make misleading claims. E.g., in Australia, where they make the best suntan lotion, the factor only goes up to 32, they claim that higher factors only keep you safe for a few more minutes. Most well-known suntan lotions contain cancer causing ingredients, which when absorbed through the skin can lead to medical problems. Ok, they may help you prevent skin-cancer, but might cause other cancers. For an indepth analysis of suntan lotion, ingredients and safety, please refer to the following link:

Remember: There is no such thing as a safe tan or a healthy tan!!! I also recommend reading the following Q&A link:

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