The name melanoma comes from the word ‘melanose’. This is the ancient Greek word for black, reflective or the dark pigmentation characteristic of the condition.3
It was discovered by the inventor of the stethoscope, a French physician called Rene Theophile Hyacinthe Laënnec.3
There are several types of skin cancer.
Melanoma is the most deadly, killing around 55,000 people worldwide, each year4 – that’s one person every 10 minutes.
Basal cell carcinoma is one of the most common cancers, and while it rarely metastasizes, it can be quite disruptive and disfiguring.
Incidences of skin cancer are increasing – worldwide, the number of people dying each year from skin cancer has more than doubled since 1990.5
At least 1 in 5 people diagnosed with metastatic melanoma do not survive longer than five years.6
There has been more innovation in skin cancer treatment in the last three years than in the previous 30 years.7
And, if diagnosed early, patients have a much higher likelihood of beating the disease.
Before you head out into the sunshine, remember: 90% of skin cancers are preventable.8
So make sure you …
Stay in the shade, especially during midday
Use sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and both UFA and UVB protection
Wear clothes that cover your arms, legs and a hat with a wide brim
WHO. Skin cancers. Available at:
American Academy of Dermatology. Skin cancer: diagnosis, treatment and outcome. Available at:
Roguin A. Rene Theophile Hyacinthe Laënnec (1781-1826): the man behind the stethoscope. Clin Med Res. 2006;4:230-5.
Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Ervik M, Dikshit R, Eser S, Mathers C, Rebelo M, Parkin DM, Forman D, Bray, F. GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.0, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 11 [Internet]. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer; 2013. Available from:
Lozano R, Naghavi M, Foreman K, et al. Global and regional mortality from 235 causes of death for 20 age groups in 1990 and 2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Lancet. 2012;380:2095–128.
Balch CM, Gershenwald JE, Soong SJ, et al. Final version of 2009 AJCC melanoma staging and classification. J Clin Oncol. 2009;27:6199-206.
Finn L, Markovic SN, Joseph RW. Therapy for metastatic melanoma: the past, present, and future. BMC Med. 2012;10:23.
Melanoma Research Foundation. Practicing effective melanoma prevention. Available at:
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