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Is Skin Cancer Deadly? Need to Knows for Summer

is skin cancer deadly

Is skin cancer deadly? What are the risks and probabilities of contracting this type of cancer? As the summer heat approaches, here’s what you need to know to stay safe. 

Background on Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with more than 3.5 million new cases diagnosed each year. While most skin cancers are not fatal, melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, can in fact be deadly. Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops from the melanocytes, the cells that produce melanin and the pigment that gives skin its color. Melanoma can develop anywhere on the body, but is most common on the areas of the skin that are most exposed to the sun, such as the face, neck, and back.

Risks and Signs of Melanoma

The risk of developing melanoma increases with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning beds. Other risk factors for melanoma include fair skin, a family history of melanoma, and a personal history of frequent sunburns. The early signs of melanoma include a new mole popping up on one’s body, or a visible change in an existing mole. These changes can include:

  • A change in size, shape, or color of a mole.
  • The development of an irregular border around a mole.
  • The development of bleeding, itching, or crusting on a mole.
  • The elevation of a mole above the skin.


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Is Skin Cancer Deadly?

With all of this said, is skin cancer deadly statistically? Ultimately, the prognosis for melanoma depends on the stage of the cancer at the time of diagnosis. The five-year survival rate for early-stage melanoma is over 90%. However, the five-year survival rate for late-stage melanoma is much lower at about 15%, signifying the importance of self-care and early detection. 

The treatment for melanoma depends on the stage of the cancer and how early it is spotted. Early-stage melanoma is usually treated with surgery to remove the tumor. In some cases, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may also be used. For more advanced melanoma, treatment may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy.

Tips for Preventing Skin Cancer

Regarding skin cancer specifically, self-care is ultimately the best defense again contracting something as serious as melanoma. There are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk this summer, including:

  • Avoid excessive exposure to UV radiation from the sun, especially during higher UV days.
  • Wear protective clothing, such as a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses when you are outdoors.
  • Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day, even on cloudy/overcast days.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or more often if you are sweating or swimming.
  • Get regular skin exams from your doctor and keep an eye out for unusual moles.
  • Stay in the shade during the middle of the day, when the sun’s rays are strongest.

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