Skin cancer is a malignant growth on the skin which can have many causes. The most common skin cancers are basal cell cancer, squamous cell cancer, and melanoma. Skin cancer generally develops in the epidermis (the outermost layer of skin), so a tumor is usually clearly visible. This makes most skin cancers detectable in the early stages. There are three common and likely types of skin cancer, each of which is named after the type of skin cell from which it arises. Unlike many other cancers, including those originating in the lung, pancreas, and stomach, only a small minority of those afflicted will actually die of the disease. Skin cancer represents the most commonly diagnosed cancer, surpassing lung, breast, colorectal and prostate cancer. Melanoma is less common than basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, but it is the most serious—for example, in the UK there are 9,500 new cases of melanoma each year, and 2,300 deaths. More people now die of melanoma in the UK than in Australia. It is the most common cancer in the young population (20 – 39 age group). It is estimated that approximately 85% of cases are caused by too much sun. Non-melanoma skin cancers are the most common skin cancers. The majority of these are called basal cell carcinomas. These are usually localised growths caused by excessive cumulative exposure to the sun and do not tend to spread.
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