What is skin cancer?

How is it caused?

At least 95% of melanoma and 98% of non-melanoma skin cancers  are caused by overexposure to UV from the sun. Protecting your skin from UV is the best way to prevent melanoma and other skin cancers.

Too much UV radiation exposure can cause irreversible damage to the DNA of skin cells, and one damaged cell can cause a skin cancer to grow.

What are the types of skin cancer?

There are three main types of skin cancer caused by damage to skin cells from UV radiation:

  • Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
  • Melanoma

BCCs and SCCs are the most common skin cancers and are often grouped together as non-melanoma skin cancers or keratinocyte cancers. These cancers do not usually spread to other parts of the body, although they do require early detection and prompt treatment to prevent this from happening. BCC and SCC cancers are more common than melanoma and the majority are successfully treated.


1. Arnold, M., de Vries, E., Whiteman, D., Jemal, A., Bray, F., Parkin, D.M., Soerjomataram, 2018. Global burden of cutaneous melanoma attributable to ultraviolet radiation in 2012, Int. J. Cancer: 143, 1305-1314