At least 2 in 3 Australians will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
There are three main types of skin cancer named after the type of cell they develop from: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma.
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are also known as non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC).
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC):
- Most common and least dangerous skin cancer
- Grow slowly over months or years
- Usually appear as persistent flat red area or a red/pearly lump
- May present as an ulcer or sore that doesn’t heal
- Does not usually metastasize
- Needs treatment as it is a locally destructive cancer
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC):
- Squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) often arise within a pre-existing solar keratosis (sunspot)
- Are often tender to touch and feel raised and lumpy, may be scaly or a or non-healing sore
- May grow quickly over several months
- Are not as dangerous as melanoma and are usually curable when treated early, but they can spread to other parts of the body if left untreated
Squamous cell carcinoma in-situ (Bowens Disease)
- Bowen’s disease is a very early form of squamous cell carcinoma.
- Usually appears as a slow-growing, red and scaly skin patch.
- ‘In situ’ means the malignant cells are confined to cell of origin i.e., the epidermis. Over time the cells can invade into the dermis and then it is called an invasive squamous cell carcinoma.
- The development of a lump or bleeding may indicate progression into invasive SCC.
- are the least common but most aggressive form of skin cancer
- can start in normal looking skin, or in a freckle or mole
- if treated early, 95% of melanomas can be cured.
A sudden or continuous change in the appearance of a mole is a sign that you should see your doctor.
The ABCD rule can help you remember the symptoms of melanoma:
A for Asymmetry…One half is different than the other half.
B for Border Irregularity…The edges are notched, uneven, or blurred.
C for Color…The color is uneven. Shades of brown, tan, and black are present.
D for Diameter…Diameter is greater than 6 millimeters.
Other Warning Signs:
- The appearance of a new bump or nodule
- The Colour spreads into surrounding skin
- Redness or swelling beyond the mole
- Change in size
- Irregular shape
- Irregular colour
- Diameter >7mm
Calculate your risk for developing Melanoma, with the “Melanoma Risk Calculator”
For more information on Melanoma Melanoma Institute Australia
A concise summary for patients on melanoma including a short image atlas can be found here at Dermnet