Recently in the news after alarming statistics detailing its prevalence, Non-melanoma skin cancer is a public health menace. PruProtect's Fergus Bescoby explains the implications
Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world. Non-melanoma skin cancer refers to a group of cancers that slowly develop in the upper layers of the skin.
In 2010 around 100,000 people in the UK were diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer and in 2011 there were 585 deaths from this form of cancer.
The term 'non-melanoma' distinguishes these more common kinds of skin cancer from the less common skin cancer known as melanoma, which spreads faster in the body.
The first sign of non-melanoma skin cancer is usually the appearance of a lump or patch on the skin that doesn't heal after a few weeks.
In most cases, cancerous lumps are red and firm, while cancerous patches are often flat and scaly.
Types of non-melanoma skin cancer
Non-melanoma skin cancers usually develop in the outermost layer of skin (epidermis) and are often named after the type of skin cell from which they develop. The two most common types of non-melanoma skin cancer are:
• basal cell carcinoma (basal cell skin cancer)
• squamous cell carcinoma (squamous cell skin cancer)
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
This is the most common type of skin cancer. About 75% of all non melanoma skin cancers diagnosed are this type. This cancer develops from basal cells.
These cells are in the deepest layer of the epidermis and around the hair follicle. It develops mostly in areas of skin exposed to the sun.