What is the Skin Cancer survival rate?

Skin Cancer is very common in people with white, fair skin as the melanocyte cells in their bodies produce less melanin thus they have pale, fair skin, and because melanin is not produced as much as it should have been their skin is unable to protect them from the harmful sun rays like the Ultraviolet Rays which can be termed as an important reason why people are affected by Skin Cancer. But this surely doesn’t mean that people with darker skin don’t get diagnosed with skin cancer. No, they do but their numbers are less as compared to that of the people with fairer skin.       

Even though skin cancer can be pretty common among people with fair skin, people who have direct exposure to the sunlight regularly and so on, and so it can be dangerous as well if not treated on time. Thus, it is also important to know about the survival rate of people suffering from Skin Cancer. And for us to know that we have to understand what is 5 year relative survival rate?

5-year relative survival rate compares people with the same type and stage of cancer to people in the overall population. For example, if the 5 – year relative survival rate for a specific stage like say stag 0 of Melanoma Cancer is 90%, then it means that people who have that cancer are on average lived over 5 years after being diagnosed with cancer.

Also one of the important factors of any cancer patient survival depends on 3 things:

  • Type of Cancer
  • Stage of Cancer
  • Fast mutation Cancer or Slow mutation Cancer, meaning where either the cells grow very rapidly or very slowly.

And the same applies to Skin Cancer as well, it depends upon the type of skin cancer, stage of skin cancer at the time of diagnosis, and whether it has spread to other parts of the body because of fast growth. Skin Cancer is curable and not dangerous until and unless it has not spread to the other body parts.

Now let’s see the survival rates of the four different types of Skin Cancer.

  1. Melanoma Skin Cancer – It is one of the most dangerous but also less common types of Skin Cancer. It is a type of skin cancer that affects the melanocytes in the skin which produces melanin, which gives color to our skin. This type of cancer usually starts off as a black or brown spot on the skin or even a mole and sometimes spot. This spot may be bumpy, red in color, or even have black, blue, or purple dots in them.

This type of cancer can develop anywhere on the skin like:

  • Chest
  • Back
  • Legs
  • Soles of the feet
  • Palms of the hand
  • Under the nails and so on.

Melanoma can be proved as deadly cancer if not treated on time. According to Melanoma Research Alliance, the 5-year relative survival rate of Melanoma skin cancer for stages 0, 1, and 2 is 98.4%.

Whereas the 5-year relative survival rate of Melanoma skin cancer for stages 3 and 4 is 63.6% and 22.5% accordingly.

skin cancer survival rate ichhori.webp

  1. Merkel Cell Carcinoma – Merkel Cell Carcinoma or cancer starts in the Merkel cells that are located below the top layer of the skin, near the nerve endings. It can be fatal if spread to body parts like the Brain, Lungs, Liver, and Bones. It is also a deadly and dangerous type of cancer that is difficult to treat and it usually infects people above the age of 50 and with a weak immune system. 

Some of the early signs of Merkel Cell Carcinoma can be rapidly growing flesh-colored bump or nodule that may bleed at times also the nodules can be red, blue, or purple in color. 

And According to the American Cancer Society, the 5-year relative survival rate of Merkel Cell Carcinoma for stages 0, 1, and 2 is 78% while for stage 3 51% and stage 4 17%.

  1. Basal Cell Carcinoma – Basal Cell Carcinoma or Cancer affects the basal cells of the skin and is the most common type of Skin Cancer. The Basal Cell Carcinoma is a slow-growing type of cancer thus hardly spreads to the other body parts but can be dangerous if left untreated. Some of the symptoms of Basal Cell Carcinoma can be as follows:

  • Pinkish or Red shiny bumps.
  • A flat white or yellowish area on the skin.
  • Red patches.
  • Open sore that doesn’t heal.

And according to the Canadian Cancer Society, the 5-year relative survival rate is 100% because it has a higher percentage of cure as it is slow-growing cancer.

  1. Squamous Cell Carcinoma – Squamous Cell Carcinoma or Cancer affects the squamous cells of the skin and is a slow-growing type of cancer just like Basal Cell Cancer. It can anywhere on the skin like:

  • Neck
  • Back of the hand
  • Chest
  • Ears
  • Face

And some of the symptoms of Squamous Cell carcinoma are as follows:

  • Rough Scaly Patches.
  • Raised bumps with slight indention at the centers
  • Open sore that doesn’t heal.
  • Wartlike (a small hard growth on the skin caused by a virus) growths.

And according to the Canadian Cancer Society, the 5-year relative survival rate of patients suffering from Squamous Cell Carcinoma is 95% as they have a high cure rate just like Basal Cell Carcinoma.

Now, even though the 5-year relative survival rates are pretty high for the different types of skin cancer until and unless you are suffering from stages 3 & 4 of Melanoma Cand and stages 3 & 4 of Merkel Cell Cancer where the survival rates are pretty low. Thus if not treated properly on time skin cancer can also prove to be fatal and thus below mentioned are some of the preventive measures that one can take against skin cancer. They are as follows:

  • Protect yourself from the sunlight properly.
  • Wear sunglasses whenever necessary to protect your eyes.
  • Apply sunscreen on your skin while you are going out of the house in the hot sun.
  • Wear hats, caps and scarves to protect your necks, ears, face, and head. 
  • Avoid the afternoon sunlight.
  • Avoid indoor and artificial tanning.
  • Get yourself checked up whenever you notice something abnormal on your skin like any red, pinkish patches, bumps, or spots that also be scaly and painful at times.
  • In the hot summers when the heat of the sun is very strong please wear full-sleeved clothes and pants. 

Thus, one needs to keep in mind that even though Skin Cancer has a high survival rate all around the world it still can be fatal if not diagnosed or treated on right time. And although it is said that Basal Cell Cancer patients have a 100% survival rate but there can be exceptions at times, when the treatment is not received on time. 

And it is also important for one to know about all the four different types of skincare, it’s symptoms, treatment, and survival rate as it has people are very less aware of the skin cancer and it’s treatment. As well as to keep themselves protected from the ultraviolet rays of the sun, one of the most common causes of Skin Cancer. 

Ref: Melanoma skin cancer survival statistics | Cancer Research UK

Can You Die from Skin Cancer? Survival Rates and Prevention (healthline.com)

Melanoma Survival Rates | Melanoma Survival Statistics (cancer.org)

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