What is Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer?
Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is the most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 20% of all new cancers and 90% of all skin cancers, and refers to a group of cancers that develop in the upper layers of the skin, usually within sun damaged areas. It has two common forms, basal cell carcinoma (BCC) which accounts for approximately 74% of all non melanoma skin cancers and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC) which accounts for approximately 23% of all NMSC cases.
While BCCs and CSCCs rarely spread, CSCCs can spread or advance locally to other areas of the body. There are two types of advanced CSCC, Locally advanced: when the cancer has spread into the deeper layers of the skin and possibly along the nerves and muscles, and Metastatic: When the cancer has also spread into the lymph nodes or other organs. The prognosis for advanced CSCCs is poorer as they are more challenging to treat.
The exact causes of NMSC are unknown, however there are several risk factors which may increase the risk of developing NMSC. These risk factors include:
- sun exposure
- certain colours of skin, hair and eyes
- exposure to carcinogenic chemicals
- rare inherited condtions
- personal or family history of skin cancer
- a weakened immune system
Symptoms of NMSC can include skin abnormalities such as the appearance of a lumps, ulcer or lesions on the skin and skin discolouration. Treatment for NMSC will depend on the location and stage of the CSCC, however the most common treatment for NMSCs is surgery. A number of other types of treatment are also available.