Fair-skinned people are more likely to develop most forms of skin cancer because they produce less melanin. Melanin is the protective pigment in the outer layer of the skin (epidermis) and helps protect the skin from ultraviolet (UV) light. About half of fair-skinned people who live to age 65 will have at least one skin cancer. However, skin cancer can also develop in dark-skinned people.
Skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. Protecting the skin from UV light exposure and early detection are most important in guarding against this disease. Healthcare providers need to increase their knowledge about the signs and symptoms and treatment of skin cancer, as well as the important role of preventing skin cancer from happening. This Module looks at the three major types of skin cancer – basal cell skin cancer, squamous cell skin cancer and melanoma. These three types are caused, at least in part, by long-term exposure to the sun.