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Skin Cancer Facts

Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells. It most often develops on areas of the skin exposed to the sun’s rays. Skin cancer affects people of all colors and races, although those with light skin who sunburn easily have a higher risk.

  • Each year in the U.S. over 5.4 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer are treated in more than 3.3 million people.
  • Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.
  • Over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined.
  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.
  • Between 40 and 50 percent of Americans who live to age 65 will have either basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma at least once.

A Dermatopathologist examining a tissue specimen is the “Gold Standard” and the only proven method of diagnosing the exact type of skin cancer.

Actinic Keratoses (AK)
These dry, scaly patches or spots are precancerous growths.


  • People who get AKs usually have fair skin.
  • Most people see their first AKs after 40 years of age because AKs tend to develop after years of sun exposure.
  • AKs usually form on the skin that gets lots of sun exposure, such as the head, neck, hands, and forearms.
  • Because an AK can progress to a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), treatment is important.

Facts:

  • Actinic keratosis is the most common precancer; it affects more than 58 million Americans.

 

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
This is the most common type of skin cancer.


  • BCCs frequently develop in people who have fair skin, yet they can occur in people with darker skin.
  • BCCs look like a flesh-colored, pearl-like bump or a pinkish patch of skin.
  • BCCs develop after years of frequent sun exposure or indoor tanning.
  • BCC are common on the head, neck, and arms, yet can form anywhere on the body, including the chest, abdomen, and legs.
  • Early diagnosis and treatment for BCC is important. BCC can invade the surrounding tissue and grow into the nerves and bones, causing damage and disfigurement.

Facts:

  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer. More than 4 million cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.

 

 

 

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
SCC is the second most common type of skin cancer.

  • People who have light skin are most likely to develop SCC, yet they can develop in darker-skinned people.
  • SCC often looks like a red firm bump, scaly patch, or a sore that heals and then re-opens.
  • SCC tend to form on skin that gets frequent sun exposure, such as the rim of the ear, face, neck, arms, chest, and back. SCC can grow deep in the skin and cause damage and disfigurement. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent this and stop SCC from spreading to other areas of the body.

Facts:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer. More than 1 million cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
  • Organ transplant patients are approximately 100 times more likely than the general public to develop squamous cell carcinoma