You May Be Surprised That This Is the Second Most Common Cancer in America

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Most Americans have never heard of one of the most common forms of skin cancer — one that’s about five times more common than melanoma, and is estimated to kill about twice as many people annually as melanoma does.

Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease, and skin cancer is the most common cancer. People can be more susceptible to certain types of cancer based on their ethnicity, family history, and sex. These are the most common types of cancer for men and women.

There’s more than one kind of skin cancer, though: While many people are aware of melanoma, and at least some may have heard of basal cell carcinoma, which is the most prevalent form of the disease. It is the second most common variety — and the second most common cancer in the country overall. Basal cell carcinoma is unknown or largely unfamiliar to a majority of Americans.

That cancer, squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC), is more common than breast, lung, and prostate cancers combined in the U.S. Yet a new study of CSCC awareness commissioned by the Skin Cancer Foundation, with sponsorship from the biotech company Regeneron and the pharmaceutical firm Sanofi, reveals that 42% of Americans have never heard of CSCC and 74% say they are largely unfamiliar with it.

In addition, though men are three times as likely to get CSCC than women and people living in southern states are at greater risk for the disease than those in the north, 74% of men and 72% of those living in the south were unfamiliar with it. Residents of southern states, however, are not the most likely to get melanoma. These are the states with the most skin cancer.

The survey, conducted among 2,010 U.S. adults this May by The Harris Poll, also revealed that 72% of participants didn’t know that advanced CSCC could be life-threatening and that even among those who regularly visit a dermatologist for skin cancer screenings, 52% had never heard of the disease.

The rate of new cancer cases is expected to increase over the next few years, a trend that is mostly contributed to the fact that people live longer and the risk of developing the disease increases with age. This is how many people are living with cancer in every state.