Some definitions to help you understand:


“Deviating from the normal or average” (Merriam-Webster)

Acral lentiginous melanoma:

“Acral lentiginous melanoma is type of melanoma arising on the palms or soles” (DermNet NZ)


“Of, relating to, resulting from, or exhibiting chemical changes produced by radiant energy especially in the visible and ultraviolet parts of the spectrum” (Merriam-Webster)

Actinic keratosis:

“Actinic keratosis (AK), also known as solar keratosis, is a skin condition caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation (i.e. sunlight). Some experts believe that AK is the earliest form of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), a non-melanoma skin cancer” (Canadian Cancer Society)


“Having two sides or halves that are not the same : not symmetrical” (Merriam-Webster)


“Of, relating to, or caused by autoantibodies or T cells that attack molecules, cells, or tissues of the organism producing them” (Merriam-Webster)

Basal cell carcinoma:

“Starts in basal cells that are found in the deepest layer of the epidermis. [Basal cell carcinoma] is the most common type of skin cancer, making up about 75% of all non-melanoma skin cancers diagnosed” (Canadian Cancer Society)


“The removal of tissue, cells, or fluids from someone’s body in order to check for illness” (Merriam-Webster)


“A class of diseases characterized by out-of-control cell growth” (Medical News Today)


“Something or someone that produces an effect, result, or condition” (Merriam-Webster)

Cancer symptoms:

“A change in the body or mind which indicates that a disease is present [caused by cancer]” (Merriam-Webster)


“Cancer that begins in the skin or in tissues that line or cover body organs. Examples are carcinoma of the breast, colon, liver, lung, pancreas, prostate, or stomach” (MedicineNet)


“Any one of the very small parts that together form all living things” (Merriam-Webster)


“Chemotherapy […] uses drugs to destroy cancer cells” (Canadian Cancer Society)

Clinical trials:

“Clinical trials are research studies that test new ways to prevent, detect, treat or manage cancer or other diseases” (Canadian Cancer Society)


“Existing at or dating from birth” (Merriam-Webster)


“Surgery in which usually diseased or abnormal tissue (as of a tumor or wart) is destroyed or removed by freezing (as by liquid nitrogen)” (Merriam-Webster)


“Uses extreme cold (liquid nitrogen or carbon dioxide) to freeze and destroy abnormal cells or tissue” (Canadian Cancer Society)


“A surgical scraping or cleaning by means of a curette” (Merriam-Webster)


“Of, relating to, or affecting the skin” (Merriam-Webster)


Practicer of dermatology [below]


“The scientific study of the skin and its diseases” (Merriam-Webster)


“A statement or conclusion that describes the reason for a disease, illness, or problem” (Merriam-Webster)


“Abnormal growth or development (as of organs or cells)” (Merriam-Webster)

Dysplastic nevi:

“An atypical mole (also called dysplastic nevus) is an unusual mole that looks different from an ordinary mole. Atypical moles are more likely than ordinary moles to develop into melanoma” (Canadian Cancer Society)


“The drying of tissue by a high-frequency electric current applied with a needle-shaped electrode” (Merriam-Webster)


“The outer layer of skin” (Merriam-Webster).


“The act or procedure of removing by or as if by cutting out” (Merriam-Webster)

External beam radiation therapy:

“[A treatment in which] a machine directs a beam of radiation through the skin to the tumour and a small amount of normal surrounding tissue” (Canadian Cancer Society)


“Any of the small brownish spots in the skin due to augmented melanin production that increase in number and intensity on exposure to sunlight” (Merriam-Webster)


“Of, relating to, or involving genes” (Merriam-Webster)


“Not capable of being affected by a disease” (Merriam-Webster)

Immune system:

“The bodily system that protects the body from foreign substances, cells, and tissues by producing the immune response” (Merriam-Webster)


“When the immune system doesn’t work as well as it should so it is less able to fight infections or diseases. Immunizations may be given to help boost immunity” (Canadian Cancer Society)


“Immunotherapy is a type of biological therapy that uses the immune system to help destroy cancer cells” (Canadian Cancer Society)


“Having, producing, or marked by an uneasy sensation in the skin” (Merriam-Webster)


“An area of skin marked by overgrowth of horny tissue” (Merriam-Webster)


“An injured or diseased spot or area on or in the body” (Merriam-Webster)

Lentigo maligna melanoma:

“Lentigo maligna is an early form of melanoma in which the malignant cells are confined to the tissue of origin, the epidermis, hence it is often reported as ‘in situ’ melanoma” (DermNet NZ)

Liquid nitrogen:

“Nitrogen in a liquid state. Liquid nitrogen is […] used for cryopreservation, cryosurgery, and cryomedicine” (MedicineNet)


“A pale fluid that contains white blood cells and that passes through channels in the body and helps to keep bodily tissues healthy” (Merriam-Webster)

Lymph node:

“Any one of many rounded masses of tissue in the body through which lymph passes to be filtered and cleaned” (Merriam-Webster)


“Of, relating to, or produced by lymph, lymphoid tissue, or lymphocytes” (Merriam-Webster)

Lymphatic system:

“The part of the circulatory system that is concerned especially with collecting fluids and proteins that have escaped from cells and tissues and returning them to the blood, with the phagocytic removal of cellular debris and foreign material, and with immune responses” (Merriam-Webster)


“The quality or state of being malignant” (Merriam-Webster)


“Tending or likely to grow and spread in a rapid and uncontrolled way that can cause death” (Merriam-Webster)

Malignant melanoma:

“A tumor of high malignancy that starts in melanocytes of normal skin or moles and metastasizes rapidly and widely” (Merriam-Webster)


“Any of various black, dark brown, reddish-brown, or yellow pigments of animal or plant structures (as skin or hair)” (Merriam-Webster)


“An epidermal cell that produces melanin” (Merriam-Webster)


“A type of cancer or tumor that begins as a dark spot or area on the skin” (Merriam-Webster)


“The spread of a disease-producing agency (as cancer cells) from the initial or primary site of disease to another part of the body” (Merriam-Webster)


“A pigmented spot, mark, or small permanent protuberance on the human body” (Merriam-Webster)

Mucosal lentiginous melanoma:

“Mucosal lentiginous melanoma is a rare type of melanoma that occurs in the mucous tissue that lines the respiratory, gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts” (Canadian Cancer Society)


The plural form of nevus [below]


“A congenital or acquired usually highly pigmented area on the skin that is either flat or raised” (Merriam-Webster)


“A chemical that has no color or smell and that makes up a large part of the atmosphere” (Merriam-Webster)


“A small lump or mass of tissue in your body” (Merriam-Webster)

Nodular melanoma:

“The second most common type of skin melanoma. It can grow more quickly than other types of melanoma. It is most commonly found on the chest, back, head or neck. […] Nodular melanoma usually starts as a raised area that is dark blackish-blue or bluish-red. However, some nodular melanomas are flesh-coloured” (Canadian Cancer Society)

Non-melanoma skin cancers:

“Non-melanoma skin cancer is a malignant tumour that starts in cells of the skin. Malignant means that it can spread, or metastasize, to other parts of the body” (Canadian Cancer Society)


“The study and treatment of cancer and tumors” (Merriam-Webster)


“A coloring matter in animals and plants especially in a cell or tissue” (Merriam-Webster)


“Likely to become cancerous” (Merriam-Webster)


“Something that comes before something else and that often leads to or influences its development” (Merriam-Webster)


“Tending to become malignant” (Merriam-Webster)

Punch biopsy:

“A biopsy in which a small, round sample of tissue (such as skin) is obtained by using an instrument with a circular blade” (Merriam-Webster)


“The use of controlled amounts of radiation for the treatment of diseases (such as cancer)” (Merriam-Webster)


“The treatment of disease with radiation (as X-rays)” (Merriam-Webster)


“The giving off of rays of energy or particles by the breaking apart of atoms of certain elements (as uranium)” (Merriam-Webster)


“To happen or appear again : to occur again” (Merriam-Webster)


“Happening or appearing again and again” (Merriam-Webster)


“A small thin dry lamina shed (as in many skin diseases) from the skin” (Merriam-Webster)


“Painfully sensitive” (Merriam-Webster)

SPF (sun protection factor):

“A number assigned to a sunscreen that is the factor by which the time required for unprotected skin to become sunburned is increased when the sunscreen is used—called also sun protection factor” (Merriam-Webster)

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC):

“A carcinoma that is made up of or arises from squamous cells and usually occurs in areas of the body exposed to strong sunlight over many years” (Merriam-Webster)


“Staging is a way of describing or classifying a cancer based on the extent of cancer in the body” (Canadian Cancer Society)


“Inflammation of the skin caused by overexposure to ultraviolet radiation especially from sunlight” (Merriam-Webster)


“A preparation (as a lotion) applied to the skin to prevent sunburn (as by chemically absorbing ultraviolet radiation)” (Merriam-Webster)


“Lying on, not penetrating below, or affecting only the surface” (Merriam-Webster)

Superficial spreading melanoma:

“Superficial spreading melanoma is the most common type of melanoma of the skin. […] Superficial spreading melanoma is usually flat and irregular in shape. It varies in colour, usually with different shades of black and brown” (Canadian Cancer Society)


“Correspondence in size, shape, and relative position of parts on opposite sides of a dividing line or median plane or about a center or axis” (Merriam-Webster)


“An agency (as treatment) designed or serving to bring about rehabilitation or social adjustment” (Merriam-Webster)


“Designed for or involving local application and action (as on the body)” (Merriam-Webster)


“To perform a medical operation in which an organ or other part that has been removed from the body of one person is put it into the body of another person” (Merriam-Webster)


“An abnormal benign or malignant new growth of tissue that possesses no physiological function and arises from uncontrolled usually rapid cellular proliferation” (Merriam-Webster)


“Situated beyond the visible spectrum at its violet end—used of radiation having a wavelength shorter than wavelengths of visible light and longer than those of X-rays” (Merriam-Webster)


“Radiation that is in the region of the ultraviolet spectrum which extends from about 320 to 400 nm in wavelength and that causes tanning and contributes to aging of the skin” (Merriam-Webster)


“Radiation that is in the region of the ultraviolet spectrum which extends from about 280 to 320 nm in wavelength and that is primarily responsible for sunburn, aging of the skin, and the development of skin cancer” (Merriam-Webster)

UV Index:

“A number on a scale which extends indefinitely upward from a baseline of 0 and whose values express the intensity of solar ultraviolet radiation at noon on a given day for a particular location with 0 indicating negligible ultraviolet exposure and values over 10 indicating very high ultraviolet exposure” (Merriam-Webster)


“A small, hard lump on the skin caused by a virus” (Merriam-Webster)


“A disease of the skin characterized by dryness and roughness and a fine scaly desquamation” (Merriam-Webster)

Xeroderma pigmentosum:

“A genetic condition inherited chiefly as a recessive autosomal trait that is caused by a defect in mechanisms that repair DNA mutations (as those caused by ultraviolet light) and is characterized by the development of pigment abnormalities and multiple skin cancers in body areas exposed to the sun” (Merriam-Webster)

NOTE: The information on the Save Your Skin website is not intended to replace the medical advice of a doctor or healthcare provider. While we make every effort to ensure that the information on our site is as current as possible, please note that information and statistics are subject to change as new research and studies are published. 


Making awareness and education available is crucial. Since 2006, the Foundation has worked to raise awareness of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers focusing on education, prevention and the need for improved patient care.