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Types of Skin Cancer

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
Superficial BCC-3 - Drummoyne Dermatology
Superficial BCC







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
SCC-2 - Drummoyne Dermatology
SCC-1 - Drummoyne Dermatology







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.
Bowen's Disease-2 - Drummoyne Dermatology
Bowen’s Disease









  • 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.
Melanoma - Drummoyne Dermatology







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
  • Bleeding


Calculate your risk for developing Melanoma, with the “Melanoma Risk Calculator

For more information on Melanoma Melanoma Institute Australia

Download the America academy of Dermatology body mole map to document your self-examination

A concise summary for patients on melanoma including a short image atlas can be found here at Dermnet

Our Services

Our Services

Our expertise is in the early detection and treatment of skin cancer. On an average day any one of ... Read more
What is a Dermatologist?

What is a Dermatologist?

Dermatologists are qualified Medical Specialists who are experts in the diagnosis, treatment ... Read more
Why see a Dermatologist

Why see a Dermatologist

“Skin Cancer Clinics are usually operated by GP’s and at this stage there is no ...” Read more
Our Facilities

Our Facilities

Procedural rooms. Skin cancer surgery is performed in our four well equipped … Read more
Recommended Links

Recommended Links

Making sire you have the best information on skin care is vital. Please see our ... Read more
Drummoyne Dermatology is a long established and well regarded dynamic dermatology centre which has provided state-of-the-art dermatology care in Sydney for over a decade. Our expertise is in the early detection and treatment of skin cancer and in the accurate diagnosis and optimal management of other diseases of the skin.
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