Skin Cancer

Quick Facts

  • It’s the most prevalent form of all cancers worldwide.
  • The number-one factor in the development of skin cancer is ultraviolet radiation (UV) from the sun.
  • Having 5 or more sunburns doubles the risk for developing a melanoma which is the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
  • When detected early the 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 99%.
  • Enjoying the sun is an essential source of happiness for most among us and can positively influence our general heatlh and well-being in several ways. On the other hand, the effect of unprotected sun exposure can cause skin cell damages on a physical and genetic level that can cause skin cancer.
  • It can appear decades after a sunburn, or from accumulated sun exposure, so prevention is the key issue.

What is skin cancer?

Like all cancers, skin cancer is  the rapid and uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. The most important skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma. Basal cell and squamous cell cancers are the less serious but still must be treated by a dermatologist, since they damage surrounding tissues by uncontrolled growth and in some cases metastasize.

Melanoma is an extremely serious malign cancer which must be treated immediately to prevent severe consequences. If it is in a progressed state when diagnosed, it is the main cause of death from skin cancers. If detected early the prognosis improves drastically.


For patients we specifically recommend skin inspections starting from the age of 35 years. Especially the highly dangerous melanoma is known to develop from initially harmless looking moles, which are being looked at, as part of any dermatologic routine inspection.

As a referral guide to non-dermatologist practitioners, the American Academy of Dermatology has issued a widely acknowledged recommendation as a guideline for inspecting pigmented lesions such as moles and melasmas among others, and recognizing risk-indicating signs which demand inspection by a board-certified dermatologist.

When examining moles (all over the skin, including between the fingers and toes and on the back) look for

A. Asymmetry—one half doesn’t match the other
B. Border—edges are ragged or blurred
C. Color—uneven shades of brown, black, tan, red, white or blue
D. Diameter—a change in size (usually greater than 6mm, about the size of a pencil’s eraser)

How to treat it?

If a lesion on your skin meets any of these criteria, it must be checked by a board-certified dermatologist, who will examine it and either assure you it is harmless, or take a biopsy and send it to the laboratory for further analysis.