If you’re facing a skin cancer diagnosis, you undoubtedly have many troubling questions running through your mind, including “Can skin cancer kill you?” Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, about 5.4 million basal and squamous cell skin cancers are diagnosed in the United States every year. These cancers occur in about 3.3 million Americans, but some people can have more than one. Because it is the most common, it is highly treatable and often curable, with treatment options ranging from X-ray energy, to surgery, and more. Common skin cancer is rarely fatal, especially when caught early and paired with effective treatment.
What is Skin Cancer?
The most common types of skin cancer are:
- Basal cell skin cancer: found in the lower layers of the epidermis
- Squamous cell skin cancer: found in the outermost sublayer of the epidermis
Knowing the differences between basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer can help you understand your treatment options, but both see extremely high cure rates.
How Deadly is Skin Cancer?
It’s normal to be upset after receiving a cancer diagnosis, but statistics show that while you can die from skin cancer, it is highly unlikely. According to Cancer.net, common skin cancer deaths have been declining over the past several years. Of the 5.4 million people diagnosed with skin cancer every year, only 2,000 pass from basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer, with the five-year survival rate for basal cell near 99%.
The low fatality rate for common skin cancer is due to:
- Slow growth: Most common skin cancers progress at a very slow rate, and rarely spread to other areas of the body.
- Easy detection: Because these cancers are on the topmost layers of the skin, they are more easily found during regular screenings.
- Low relapse risk: After the proper treatment, it is less likely these skin cancers will reappear once eradicated.
- Effective treatment options: People with skin cancer benefit from many treatment innovations, including surgery, topical therapies, and X-ray energy therapies, such as Image-Guided SRT.
How Does Skin Cancer Kill You?
Melanoma can spread quickly to internal organs and become life-threatening, but it’s not the only type of skin cancer that can be deadly. Basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer both have the propensity to be deadly if they’re not caught in time. Between the two, squamous cell skin cancer is more likely to spread. About 95 percent of squamous cell skin cancers are detected early, but the remaining 5 percent advance to a point where they’re more difficult to treat.
Advanced squamous is rare, but can be life-threatening. When squamous cell skin cancer becomes advanced, it has spread aggressively or has resisted treatment. When a person has advanced squamous cell skin cancer, they’ll have:
- Locally advanced squamous cell skin cancer with lesions that have grown deep into the surrounding tissues, nerves, and muscles. This can cause disfiguration.
- Metastatic squamous cell skin cancer with lesions that have spread far beyond the original skin cancer area to other parts of the body. This can be life-threatening.
What Factors Impact Skin Cancer Survival?
There are many factors that impact a person with skin cancer’s survival rate, including:
- General health history: Your age, gender, race, and pre-existing conditions could all have an effect on your cancer’s progression.
- Where the cancer is located: Some areas may be more difficult for you to detect changes in your skin’s appearance, such as your backside. Receiving yearly dermatological examinations is recommended.
- The size and grade of the cancer: Early detection plays a big role in how far and deep the cancer is able to spread.
- How the cancer responds to treatment: With many treatment options available, it’s important to educate yourself on what will work best for your circumstances. Talk to your doctor for recommendations.
Find Surgery-Free Skin Cancer Treatments with GentleCure™
Can skin cancer kill you? Your fatality risk is extremely low, especially with early detection. If you’ve received a skin cancer diagnosis and are looking for surgery-free treatment options, contact us online or call us at 855-936-4411 to speak with our skin cancer specialists about GentleCure™. This safe, effective treatment can be used to treat your symptoms without cutting or surgical scarring. Learn more about how it works.