Things you may not know about Skin Cancer

One in three cancers is a skin cancer.¹ Skin cancer can often be cured if caught early, but if left it can be difficult to treat and even fatal.²



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

Skin cancer was discovered as long ago as the early 1800s

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

The good news is that the range of treatment options is expanding

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


  1. WHO. Skin cancers. Available at:; Last accessed April 2015.

  2. American Academy of Dermatology. Skin cancer: diagnosis, treatment and outcome. Available at:; Last accessed April 2015.

  3. Roguin A. Rene Theophile Hyacinthe Laënnec (1781-1826): the man behind the stethoscope. Clin Med Res. 2006;4:230-5.

  4. 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:; Last accessed April 2015.

  5. 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.

  6. Balch CM, Gershenwald JE, Soong SJ, et al. Final version of 2009 AJCC melanoma staging and classification. J Clin Oncol. 2009;27:6199-206.

  7. Finn L, Markovic SN, Joseph RW. Therapy for metastatic melanoma: the past, present, and future. BMC Med. 2012;10:23.

  8. Melanoma Research Foundation. Practicing effective melanoma prevention. Available at:; Last accessed April 2015.

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