Melanoma is the least common but most deadly type of skin cancer in Australia. There are two different types of Non-Melanoma cancers: Basal Cell Cancer (BCC) and Squamous Cell Cancer (SCC).
While the Non-Melanoma skin cancer types are the most common, they are the least deadly and can generally be effectively treated.
Basal Cell Cancer (BCC)
Basal Cell Cancer is the most common type of skin cancer. It occurs on skin that has been exposed to UV radiation or has been previously sunburned.
Basal Cell Cancer is a Non-Melanoma type of skin cancer that grows slowly over months and years in the lower part of the upper layer of skin, rarely spreading to other parts of the body.
The cancer typically appears as round, hard, red or pearly bumps on the face, head, nose, neck, trunk and lower legs. In most cases, it can be effectively treated by surgical removal.
Squamous Cell Cancer (SCC)
Squamous Cell Cancer is a Non-Melanoma skin cancer that grows more quickly and can spread to other parts of the body. In most cases, it can be effectively treated by surgical removal.
The cancer typically appears as a pink scale lump that may ulcerate on exposed areas of the face, ears, head, lips and back of the hands. It can be tender and produce a burning or stinging sensation.
Bowen's Disease is Squamous Cell Carcinoma that appears as red scaly plaque on the lower legs and feet that has not spread beyond the first layer of skin.
People who have had an organ transplant or take immunosuppression medication are at a higher risk of developing Squamous Cell Cancer.
Melanoma is a form of cancer arising from maloncytes in the skin. It is more likely to affect people with a large number of moles, a family history of melanoma or with skin that is been sunburned or previously exposed to UV radiation.
Melanomas appear on the skin as a new or existing spot, freckle or mole that has changed in colour, size or shape. They can appear anywhere on the body, including areas not exposed to UV radiation. Typically, melanomas have an irregular outline and can be more than one colour.
Usually, melanomas will grow rapidly and enlarge or spread across the skin within months to form a lump that is easy to feel. They usually become darker and tend to bleed if rubbed or injured. The area around the melanoma is also often itchy.
If left untreated, melanomas can spread quickly to other parts of the body and lead to death.
People with large moles that are irregular in shape and irregular in colour are at a higher risk of melanoma. These moles can be genetic and are referred to as Dysplastic Naevi, meaning there is evidence of abnormal cellular growth. They must be closely monitored for changes.