Skin Cancer vs. Melanoma
Nonmelanoma skin cancer is the most common form of skin cancer. There
are about 1.3 million cases each year in the United States. Basal cell
carcinoma (80%) and squamous cell carcinoma (16%) are the most common
forms of nonmelanoma skin cancers, accounting for about 96% of all new
cases of skin cancer.
Other nonmelanoma skin cancers account for less than 1% of nonmelanoma
skin cancers, according to American Cancer Society. These less common
skin cancers include:
- Kaposi's sarcoma, which usually starts within the deeper layers of
the skin but can also form in internal organs. The tumors consist of
bluish-red or purple lesions. This cancer occurs in people with compromised
immune systems such as those with HIV infection or AIDS as well as transplant
recipients who are on immune-suppressing drugs.
- cutaneous lymphoma, a type of lymphoma that begins in the skin.
- skin adnexal tumors, rare tumors that start in the hair follicles
or sweat glands, and are usually benign.
- sarcomas, which usually start in tissues deep beneath the skin, but
can develop in the skin as well.
- Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare cancer of neuroendocrine origin that
develops on or just beneath the skin and in hair follicles. These cancers
usually appear as firm, reddish/purple shiny skin lumps.
Melanoma is the least common, but most aggressive of the two types of
skin cancer. Melanoma originates in melanocytes-the cells in the skin
that produce pigment or melanin.
In 2004, there will be about 95,880 new cases of melanoma diagnosed in
the United States--about 4% of all diagnosed skin cancers--but it accounts
for about 77% of skin cancer deaths, according to the ACS. One person
dies of melanoma every hour.