Skin Cancer

What is Skin Cancer? 

There are 2 main types of skin cancer: Non melanoma skin cancer and melanoma skin cancer.

Non melanoma skin cancer includes:
  • basal cell skin cancer – this is also called basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
  • squamous cell skin cancer – this is also called squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
  • some other rare types

Non melanoma skin cancers tend to develop most often on skin that’s exposed to the sun. There is a high cure rate for these cancers. Most people only have minor surgery and don’t need further treatment.

It is important that you check your skin regularly.

Read about non melanoma skin cancer

Melanoma skin cancer

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer. It develops from skin cells called melanocytes.

There are 2 main types of skin cancer: Non melanoma skin cancer (which includes basal cell skin cancer, squamous cell skin cancer and other rare types) and melanoma skin cancer. This section is about melanoma skin cancer.

Find out about melanoma skin cancer

Where melanoma starts

Melanoma starts in cells in the skin called melanocytes. These cells are in the deep layer of the epidermis between the layer of basal cells.

Melanocytes make a pigment called melanin. This gives skin its natural colour. The pigment helps to protect the body from ultraviolet light (UV radiation) from the sun.

UV radiation can cause sunburn. This is a sign of damage to the genetic material (DNA) in skin cells. Over time, enough DNA damage can cause cells to grow out of control and lead to cancer.

People who originally come from hotter climates with more sunshine tend to have naturally darker skins. They do not have more of the melanocyte cells than people with pale skin. But their melanocytes are more active and make more of the pigment.

In paler people, the pigment gives you a sun tan. Exposing your skin to the sun makes the melanocytes make more pigment. The pigment is then transferred to the other skin cells to protect them against the sun’s rays.

Melanoma can also develop in a mole, or more rarely in areas not exposed to the sun.

Who gets melanoma?

Melanoma may occur at any age, but it is more common in older people. In comparison to most other cancer types, it is also quite common in younger people.

Ultraviolet radiation from the sun or sunbeds is the main environmental factor that increases the risk of developing melanoma.

Other risk factors include:

  • skin type
  • hair and eye colour
  • number of moles
  • family history of melanoma

Read more about risk factors for melanoma

How common is it?

Around 16,700 people are diagnosed with melanoma in the UK each year.  The number of people diagnosed with melanoma has increased over the last few decades.

Melanoma is the 5th most common cancer in the UK.

How Can the Mulberry Centre Help? 

The Mulberry Centre can help at any stage of your cancer journey, whether you have just been diagnosed with any type of cervical, or other, cancer. We offer emotional support, counselling, complementary therapies, workshops on a variety of relevant topics as well as more social activities. 

If you want to know more, speak to us about your diagnosis or that of someone for whom you are close to or caring for, or you would like to hear more from someone about cancer, early diagnosis and treatment you can call us on 020 8321 6300 or email us on and someone will call you back.  

Share This Post