Is Skin Cancer Dangerous? Understanding the Risks and Prognosis

Skin cancer is a prevalent and potentially life-threatening disease that affects millions of people each year. The question often arises: “Is skin cancer dangerous?” To address this concern, we’ll explore the various types of skin cancer and their potential risks and prognosis.


Melanoma is one of the most serious forms of skin cancer. The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that it caused 1,200 deaths in Canada in 2022. The outlook for individuals with melanoma can vary significantly. Most melanomas can be cured if detected and treated before they have a chance to spread. Early detection and removal of melanoma are essential for a full recovery.

Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers:

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC):

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, BCC is the most common form of skin cancer, affecting 50,000-60,000 Canadians every year[1]. BCC is generally considered less dangerous than melanoma. However, if not detected and treated early, it can become locally destructive and, in rare instances, metastasize.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC):

SCC is the second most common form of skin cancer, with an estimated 20,000 cases diagnosed each year in the Canada[2]. Like BCC, SCC can be locally destructive and sometimes metastasize if not detected and treated early.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC):

MCC is a relatively rare but highly aggressive skin cancer. MCCs are at high risk of recurring and metastasizing, emphasizing the critical importance of early detection and treatment.

Prognostic Factors

The prognosis and survival rates for skin cancer are influenced by several factors, as outlined by the Canadian Cancer Society:

Location: Skin cancer on certain areas, such as around the eyes, nose, lips, ears, scalp, fingers, toes, and genitals, may have a higher risk of recurrence or metastasis.

Size and Depth: Larger tumors and those that have grown deep into the skin are more likely to come back.

Recurrence: Skin cancer that returns after treatment may have a less favorable prognosis.

Type or Subtype: Some subtypes of BCC and SCC tend to grow more quickly and have different outcomes.

Immunosuppression: Weakened immune systems can impact the prognosis.

Stage: The stage at diagnosis is a significant determinant of prognosis.

Outlook for Skin Cancer In general, the outlook for skin cancer is positive. The 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 99% if detected and treated before it spreads to the lymph nodes, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. For BCC and SCC, the outlook is favorable, especially when diagnosed early. However, as skin cancer advances, the prognosis may vary. In conclusion, most skin cancers are curable, especially when detected and treated in their early stages. Early detection, regular check-ups with a dermatologist, and prompt treatment are essential in ensuring a positive outcome. While skin cancer can be a serious diagnosis, advances in medical treatments offer hope and optimism for those affected by this condition. If you have concerns about your specific case, consult with your healthcare provider for personalized guidance on your prognosis and treatment options.

In summary, in answering the question “is skin cancer dangerous?” one must consider various elements such as the type, stage, and other prognostic factors. Melanoma is considered the most dangerous of the common skin cancers, while BCC and SCC can also pose significant risks if not detected and treated promptly. Understanding these risks and working with a healthcare provider to assess prognosis based on individual factors are essential steps in managing and treating skin cancer. Early detection remains the key to improving the prognosis and ensuring a better outcome.

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Save Your Skin Foundation wishes to bring hope and support to all those touched by melanoma, non-melanoma skin cancers, or ocular melanoma – whether they are newly diagnosed, currently undergoing treatment, in remission or referred to as “NED” (no evidence of disease).


We are here to help. Call us at 1-800-460-5832 or email

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[1] “Basal Cell Carcinoma.” Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation, 26 Mar. 2020, Accessed 20 Oct. 2023.

[2] “Squamous Cell Carcinoma.” Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation, 26 Mar. 2020, Accessed 20 Oct. 2023.