Prevalence of Skin Cancer in the Middle East

Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of malignancy. There are two main types of skin cancer: melanoma and non-melanoma (basal cell, squamous cell, and sebaceous gland carcinoma). The prevalence of skin cancer in the Middle East is on the rise. In Saudi Arabia, 9.9 percent of the population is at risk of developing skin cancers. It is more common in men than women, and most cases are in the 61-80 age group.

Squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas are the most common types of skin cancer in Saudi Arabia. Malignant melanomas, which are the types of skin cancer that spread to other organs and result in death — are less common. 

Incidence and Distribution of Skin Cancers

Squamous cell carcinoma (41.1 percent) is the most common skin cancer diagnosis in Saudi Arabia, followed by basal cell carcinoma (26.3 percent). The parts most often affected are the head and neck (55.4 percent). These cancers also occur in the lower limbs (16.6 percent), trunk (13.6 percent), upper limbs (8.2 percent), and pelvic area (2.3 percent). 

Recognizing the Signs of Skin Cancer

Skin cancers are easier to diagnose than deep-seated malignancies. 

Squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma
looks like warts that crust and sometimes bleed. This cancer can also appear as red patches on the skin, open sores that don’t heal for weeks, or an elevated growth that grows rapidly. 


Basal Cell carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma
manifests as a persistent, non-healing sore, a reddish patch or irritated area, a pink growth, or scarring. 

Screening for Skin Cancer

Only 55 percent of people in Saudi Arabia know about skin cancer and sun-protective practices are rarely followed. Screening for skin malignancies is crucial because early diagnosis and treatment can save lives. Examining the skin under bright light helps diagnose these malignancies.

It is recommended to have a yearly skin examination. The entire body should be examined since 20 percent of cancers occur in areas not exposed to the sun. The patient should remove all makeup before the skin examination. 

If you see moles, spots, or growths on the skin, consider cancer a possibility. Look for these ABCDE signs of cancer:

  • Asymmetry: The two halves of a mole don’t match. 
  • Borders: Cancer lesions have uneven, scalloped, or notched borders.
  • Colour: Cancerous lesions are multicoloured (brown, black, blue, and red).
  • Diameter: Moles greater than 6 mm in size are suspicious.
  • Evolution: Changes in size, shape, colour, and height indicate cancer, as do new symptoms like itching, bleeding, and crusting.

If suspicious lesions are found during an examination, the patient should be referred to a dermatologist who can decide if a diagnostic biopsy is necessary.

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month in Saudi Arabia and around the globe, and clinicians should use the opportunity to raise awareness about these malignancies and popularize skin safety.

Uncover Insights on Skin Cancer

MDBriefCase provides continuing medical education (CME) programs developed by leading specialists and peer-reviewed by experts. Learn more about skin cancers in our course, Melanoma in People with Skin of Colour: Diagnosis and Treatment, available on MDBriefCase Canada. You can also join the MDBriefCase community for free to stay current on clinical guidelines.

Author Agreement

In submitting your work (the “Work”) for potential posting on the MDBriefCase Healthcare Leadership Academy website (the “Website”), you (“You”) expressly agree to the following:

Review: MDBriefCase is pleased to consider the publication of Your Work on the Website.   The suitability of the Work for posting shall be determined by MDBRiefCase at its sole discretion. Nothing herein shall obligate MDBriefcase to post or otherwise publish the Work, or the maintain its posting in future.   

Editing; Identification: MDBriefcase shall have the right to edit the Work to conform to our standards of style, technological requirements, language usage, grammar and punctuation, provided that the meaning of the Work is not materially altered.  If posted, You will be identified as the author of the Work, or co-author if applicable.  

Grant of Rights:  As a condition of publication and for no monetary compensation, You hereby grant to MDBriefCase the following rights to the Work in any and all media whether now existing or hereafter developed, including print and electronic/digital formats:  (1) the exclusive right of first publication worldwide;  (2) the perpetual non-exclusive worldwide right to publish, reproduce, distribute, sell, adapt, perform, display, sublicense, and create derivative works, alone or in conjunction with other materials; (3) the perpetual non-exclusive worldwide right to use the Work, or any part thereof, in any other publication produced by MDBriefCase and/or on MDBriefCase’s website; and (4) the perpetual non-exclusive worldwide right to use the Work to promote and publicize MDBriefCase or its publications.  The grant of rights survives termination or expiration of this Agreement.    

Warranty:  You warrant that the Work is original with You and that it is not subject to any third party copyright; that You have authority to grant the rights in this Agreement; that publication of the Work will not libel anyone or infringe on or invade the rights of others; that You have full power and authority to enter into this Agreement; that the Work has not been published elsewhere in whole or in part; and that You have obtained permission from the copyright owner consistent with this Agreement for any third party copyrighted material in the Work.  This warranty survives termination or expiration of this Agreement.

Submission Agreement

Thank you for your interest in writing an article for the MDBriefCase Healthcare Leadership Academy website.

Audience and Appropriate Topics

The  Healthcare Leadership Academy welcomes submissions on all topics relevant to leaders in healthcare. Our topics include Leading in Healthcare, Leadership Lessons from COVID-19 and others. We prioritize stories that provide leadership advice to executives and managers in healthcare companies, offer actionable strategies for executing successful projects, and provide interesting angles on current healthcare topics. Submissions must be original work of the authors and unpublished.  When submitting, authors represent that they have included no material that is in violation of the rights of any other person or entity.


Articles must be educational and non-promotional. If they mention the author’s company or any of the company’s products or services by name within the text, such mention should be very limited and used for reference only, not for promotion. (For example, an author might cite a survey conducted by his company but not describe his company’s product as a solution to a business problem.) Articles will be edited for clarity, style and brevity. The final headline is determined by the editor.

Length of Submissions

Guest articles for the MDBriefCase Healthcare Leadership Academy may run between 500 and 1000 words. 


MDBriefCase reserves the right to accept or reject any submission  and the right to condition acceptance upon revision of material to conform to its criteria.   

No Compensation

There is no payment for contributed articles. However, MDBriefCase will give the author a byline. Authors are invited to link to the article on personal  websites, corporate websites and social media platforms.

Author Agreements

Each author understands and agrees that any submission accepted for posting is provided subject to MDBriefCase’s Author Agreement