More than 2 million people are treated each year for the most common forms of skin cancer—basal cell and squamous cell. Basal cell skin cancer is several times more common than squamous cell skin cancer. Each year, more than 68,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma, and another 48,000 are diagnosed with an early form of the disease that involves only the top layer of skin.
Melanoma is less common than the others, but far more dangerous—even deadly. It involves the cells that produce the skin pigment melanin, which is responsible for skin and hair color. Melanoma can spread very rapidly, and the incidence of melanoma in the United States is steadily increasing. It is the leading cause of death from skin disease.
The development of melanoma is related to sun exposure, particularly to sunburns during childhood. It is most common among people with fair skin, blue or green eyes, and red or blond hair.
- Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The two most common types are basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer. Melanoma, a more serious type of skin cancer, is less common.
- More than 2 million people are treated for basal cell or squamous cell skin cancer each year. Basal cell skin cancer is several times more common than squamous cell skin cancer.
- The number of cases of skin cancer has been increasing. Exposure to the sun is a major factor.
- Estimated new cases and deaths from melanoma in the United States in 2013: New cases: 76,690; deaths: 9,480.