Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the skin.
There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC),
which are called non-melanoma skin cancers, and melanoma. There are other rare skin cancers, such as those that start in the sweat glands and hair follicles.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
BCC makes up about 70% of non-melanoma skin cancers.
• It commonly develops on the head, neck and upper body.
• It may appear as a pearly lump or a scaly or dry area that is pale or bright pink in colour and shiny.
• BCC may bleed and become inflamed, and dead tissue may slough off (ulcerate). Some BCCs heal then break down again.
Often BCCs have no symptoms. They tend to grow slowly and don’t usually spread to other parts of the body. The earlier a BCC is found, the easier it will be to treat. However, if BCC is left untreated or grows larger than 5 cm, it may grow deeper into the skin and damage nearby tissue. This may make treatment more difficult and increase the chance of the BCC returning.
What is Skin Cancer?
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
SCC accounts for about 30% of non-melanoma skin cancers.
• SCC usually appears on parts of the body most often exposed to the sun, such as the head, neck, hands, forearms or lower legs.
• It often appears as a thickened, red, scaly spot.
• SCC may look like a sore that hasn’t healed.
• It may be tender to touch.
SCCs tend to grow quickly over several weeks or months.
It is possible for SCCs to spread to other parts of the body – particularly the lips, ears, scalp or temples – if left untreated.
Melanoma is the least common type of skin cancer but it is the most serious.
• It can often appear as a new spot or an existing spot that changes size, shape or colour.
• Melanoma often has an irregular edge or surface, and it may be more than one colour such as brown, black, blue, red, white or light grey.
Left untreated, a melanoma may spread deeper into the skin where cancer cells can escape and be carried in lymph
vessels or blood vessels to other parts of the body. The earlier melanoma is diagnosed, the better the chance of cure.
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)