Can Non-Melanoma Turn Into Melanoma?

Last Modified: May 27, 2011

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Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

If I have non-melanoma skin cancer, will I get melanoma someday or can it turn into melanoma?


Christopher Miller, MD, Assistant Professor in Dermatology and Director of the Moh's Surgery Program at Penn Medicine, responds:

Non melanoma skin cancers (eg. basal cell and squamous cell cancers) are much more common than melanoma. 70% of all skin cancers are basal cells cancers, 20% are squamous cell cancers. Only about 10% of all skin cancers are melanoma. However, melanoma causes more deaths than all other skin cancers combined.

A history of basal and squamous cell cancers increases one's risk for melanoma. However, a basal or squamous cell cancer does not turn into a melanoma. That fact that someone has a BCC or SCC indicates that there is enough sun damage to place them at risk for melanoma.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series: Sun Safety and Skin Cancer Prevention Webchat. View the entire transcript on Sun Safety.

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