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    Skin Cancer Prevention (PDQ®): Prevention - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Description of the Evidence

    Background

    Incidence and mortality

    Recommended Related to Melanoma/Skin Cancer

    How Doctors Diagnose Metastatic Melanoma

    After your doctor says you have melanoma skin cancer, your first question is probably going to be: Has it spread?  Your doctor will do tests to find out if it has moved, or “metastasized,” deeper within your skin or to other parts of your body. There are some possible clues in the lab report your doctor got when you first got your melanoma diagnosis. If the melanoma is less than 1 millimeter thick, it’s less likely to have spread than a thicker one. The report might also mention how quickly the...

    Read the How Doctors Diagnose Metastatic Melanoma article > >

    There are three main types of skin cancer:

    BCC and SCC are the most common forms of skin cancer but have substantially better prognoses than the less common, generally more aggressive, melanoma.

    NMSC is the most commonly occurring cancer in the United States. Its incidence appears to be increasing in some,[1] but not all,[2] areas of the country. Overall U.S. incidence rates have likely been increasing for a number of years.[3] At least some of this increase may be attributable to increasing skin cancer awareness and resulting increasing investigation and biopsy of skin lesions. The total number and incidence rate of NMSCs cannot be estimated precisely because reporting to cancer registries is not required. However, based on extrapolation of Medicare fee-for-service data to the U.S. population, it has been estimated that the total number of persons treated for NMSCs in 2006 was about 3,500,000.[3,4] That number exceeds all other cases of cancer estimated by the American Cancer Society for that year, which totaled about 1.4 million.[5]

    Melanoma is a reportable cancer in U.S. cancer registries, so there are more reliable estimates of incidence than is the case with NMSCs. In 2014, it is estimated that 76,000 individuals in the United States will be diagnosed with melanoma and approximately 9,710 will die of the disease.[4]

    The incidence of melanoma has been increasing for at least 30 years.[4]

    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 (high-intensity and short-duration vs. chronic exposure) and the pattern of exposure (continuous vs. intermittent) may differ among the three main skin cancer types.[6,7,8] In addition, the immune system may play a role in pathogenesis of skin cancer. Organ transplant recipients receiving immunosuppressive drugs are at an elevated risk of skin cancer, particularly SCC. Arsenic exposure also increases the risk of cutaneous SCC.[9,10]

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