Skip to content

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Skin Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - General Information About Skin Cancer

There are three main types of skin cancer:

  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC).
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
  • Melanoma.

BCC and SCC are the most common forms of skin cancer and are collectively referred to as nonmelanoma skin cancers. This summary only covers the treatment of nonmelanoma skin cancers. (Refer to the PDQ summary on Melanoma Treatment for more information.)

Recommended Related to Cancer

Overview

This complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) information summary provides an overview of the Gerson therapy as a treatment for people with cancer. The summary includes a brief history of the development of the Gerson therapy; a review of laboratory, animal, and human studies; and possible side effects associated with the use of this treatment. This summary contains the following key information: The Gerson therapy is advocated by its supporters as a method of treating cancer patients based...

Read the Overview article > >

Incidence and Mortality

Nonmelanoma skin cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in the United States. BCC is the more common type of the two nonmelanoma types, accounting for about three-quarters of nonmelanoma skin cancers.[1] The incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancer appears to be increasing in some,[2] but not all [3] areas of the United States. Overall U.S. incidence rates have likely been increasing for a number of years.[4] At least some of this increase may be attributable to increasing skin cancer awareness and resulting increasing investigation and biopsy of skin lesions.

Precise estimation of the total numbers and incidence rate of nonmelanoma skin cancer is not possible because reporting to cancer registries is not required. However, based on Medicare fee-for-service data, which were then extrapolated to the U.S. population, an estimated 2,152,500 persons were treated for nonmelanoma skin cancers in 2006.[4] That number would exceed all other cases of cancer estimated by the American Cancer Society for that year, which was about 1.4 million.[5] Although the two types of nonmelanoma skin cancer are the most common of all malignancies, they account for less than 0.1% of patient deaths caused by cancer.

Risk Factors

Epidemiologic evidence suggests that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and the sensitivity of an individual's skin to UV radiation are risk factors for skin cancer, though the type of exposure (i.e., high-intensity exposure and short-duration exposure vs. chronic exposure) and pattern of exposure (i.e., continuous pattern vs. intermittent pattern) may differ among the three main skin cancer types.[6,7,8] All three types of skin cancer are more likely to occur in individuals of light complexion who have had substantial exposure to sunlight, and skin cancers are more common in the southern latitudes of the Northern hemisphere. In addition, the immune system may play a role in pathogenesis of skin cancers.

    1|2
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Colorectal cancer cells
    New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
    Lung cancer xray
    See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
     
    sauteed cherry tomatoes
    Fight cancer one plate at a time.
    Ovarian cancer illustration
    Real Cancer Perspectives
     
    Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
    Blog
    what is your cancer risk
    HEALTH CHECK
     
    colorectal cancer treatment advances
    Video
    breast cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    prostate cancer overview
    SLIDESHOW
    lung cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
     
    ovarian cancer overview slideshow
    SLIDESHOW
    Actor Michael Douglas
    Article