Skin cancer affects many people. Sunburn and too much sun can increase the risk of skin cancer; however, people can get skin cancer without spending too much time in the sun.
The most common kinds of skin cancer are called basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Almost all people with these skin cancers can be cured by specialist surgery and sometimes radiotherapy.
Melanoma is much less common. Melanoma is important because it is more likely than the other skin cancers to spread to other parts of the body. Even so, most people with melanoma can be cured by surgery and sometimes radiotherapy. When melanoma spreads, doctors aim to control the cancer with chemotherapy, immunotherapy and drugs that target specific abnormalities in the malignant cells.
There are several types of rare skin cancers affecting only a few hundred people each year. Even though these skin cancers are rare, the patients who get these cancers should have access to good quality treatment based on sound research, just like people with common cancers. One type of rare skin cancer is called Merkel Cell Carcinoma which can be cured for many people but can spread to other parts of the body.
What about melanoma that does not start in the skin, such as the eye?
The QEHB Fighting Skin Cancer appeal supports work to help people with all kinds of melanoma whether or not it started in the skin.
There are some rare kinds of melanoma that do not start in the skin. Some melanomas start in eye, called ocular or uveal melanoma. Other kinds start inside the nose or within the back passage or genital organs. These are called mucosal melanoma.
The skin cancer team at QEHB offers treatment and trials for people with these rare types of melanoma. For eye melanoma, we work alongside specialist surgeons in Liverpool and Sheffield.
To donate to the QEHB Fighting Skin Cancer Appeal, please click here.
Where can I find more information about skin cancer?
If you have a new lump on the skin or any other reason to be worried about skin cancer, consult your GP.
The typical symptoms of a melanoma are a mole on the skin that is getting bigger, changing in appearance, becoming itchy, painful, inflamed or crusty or is bleeding.
Cancer Research UK has some very helpful pages about skin cancer that you can find on these links.