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Skin Cancer access options

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. It occurs when unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells (most often caused by ultraviolet radiation) triggers mutations, or genetic defects, that lead the skin cells to multiply rapidly and form malignant tumours1.

What are the different types of skin cancer?

Among the several types of skin cancer are melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and Merkel cell carcinoma.

Of the several types of skin cancer, melanoma causes the majority (75%) of deaths. In 2012, melanoma occurred in 232,000 people and resulted in 55,000 deaths worldwide2. Melanocytes are the type of skin cells that produce melanin, a brown pigment that protects the skin from some of the harmful effects of the sun, and they can become melanomas.3The majority of melanomas are black or brown, but they can also be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white4.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is a type of cancer that begins in the lower part of the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin). It may appear as a small white or flesh-colored bump that grows slowly, and bleeding may occur5. BCC is the most common human cancer with 3.5 million cases diagnosed worldwide every year, of which about 0.8% of cases are locally advanced. When detected early the vast majority of cases are successfully managed through surgery, with 5-year cure rates exceeding 90%. Although rare, BCCs have the potential to progress to locally advanced and even metastatic disease. These cutaneous malignancies are often not treatable with surgery or radiation therapy6.

Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare, aggressive skin cancer that is at high risk of recurring and spreading (metastasising) throughout the body7. Merkel cell carcinomas are usually curable when detected and treated at an early stage but they are often aggressive and can advance rapidly. These tumors usually appear as firm, painless lesions or nodules on a sun-exposed area. They are typically red, blue, purple or skin-colored and vary in size8.


1. Skin Cancer Information,
The Skin Cancer Foundation, cited on 13/03/2018.

2.World Cancer Report [PDF],
World Health Organisation, 2003, cited on 13/03/2018.

3. What Is Melanoma Skin Cancer?
American Cancer Society, last revised May 2016.

4. Melanoma,
The Skin Cancer Foundation, cited on 13/03/2018.

5. Basal Cell Carcinoma,
Web MD, 2016, cited on 13/03/2018.

6. Defining Locally Advanced Basal Cell Carcinoma,
Tyler J. Maly and James E. Sligh, Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, May 2014.

7. Merkell Cell Carcinoma,
The Skin Cancer Foundation, cited on 13/03/2018.

8. Merkell Cell Carcinoma - Risk Factors and Warning Signs,
The Skin Cancer Foundation, cited on 13/03/2018.

  1. Libtayo
    Libtayo (cemiplimab)
    Lung Cancer, Skin Cancer
  2. Braftovi
    Braftovi (encorafenib)
    Colorectal Cancer, Skin Cancer
  3. Bavencio
    Bavencio (avelumab)
    Urothelial Carcinoma, Kidney Cancer, Skin Cancer
  4. Cotellic
    Cotellic (cobimetinib)
    Skin Cancer
  5. Keytruda
    Keytruda (pembrolizumab)
    Urothelial Carcinoma, Breast Cancer, Colorectal Cancer, Gastric Cancer, Head and Neck Cancer, Kidney Cancer, Lung Cancer, Lymphoma, Skin Cancer
  6. Odomzo
    Odomzo (sonidegib)
    Skin Cancer
  7. Opdivo
    Opdivo (Nivolumab)
    Urothelial Carcinoma, Colorectal Cancer, Head and Neck Cancer, Kidney Cancer, Liver Cancer, Lung Cancer, Lymphoma, Skin Cancer
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