The most common form of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma, or BCC. Squamous cell carcinoma, or SCC, is the second most common form. These are rarely life threatening and are classified as non-melanoma skin cancers. About 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
Approximately three percent of skin cancer cases are melanoma. The survival rate for people whose melanoma is detected early, before the tumor invades the dermis, is about 99 percent. Historically, melanoma is more common in males over 40 years of age than in females over 40. This may be due to the fact that men often have more exposure to ultraviolet rays because of outdoor occupations. Men may also use sunscreen less often and may not be screened for melanoma as frequently as women. About 65 percent of melanoma cases are caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun. In addition, there's growing evidence of a link between tanning-bed use and all types of skin cancer.
A study by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center found that military service members have higher rates of melanoma than civilians, and Airmen are more apt to develop skin cancer than other service members.
Skin cancer can affect anyone regardless of age, ethnicity or gender, and it can develop anywhere on the body. Among Caucasians, Hispanics, Chinese, Japanese and other Asian populations, basal cell carcinoma is the most common cancer. For African Americans and Asian Indians, squamous cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer.