Types of Skin Cancers

This section contains information about types of skin cancers, what to look for, and how to prevent them. If you are concerned that you may have any of these signs please see your doctor.

Three Main Types of Skin Cancer:

Basal Cell Carcinoma

  • Basal cell carcinoma is also know as a Rodent Ulcer.
  • The most common type of skin cancer, accounting for more than 75% of all skin cancers.
  • Often the least dangerous and almost always completely curable by treatment.
  • Most BCCs are slow-growing and almost never spread to other parts of the body but if left untreated they can damage or destroy the skin and surrounding tissues and cause an ulcer known as a rodent ulcer.

Learn more about Basel Cell Carcinoma

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arising from the squamous cells in the epidermis, the skin’s outermost layer.
  • SCC accounts for about 30% of non-melanoma skin cancers.
  • It begins in the upper layer of the epidermis and usually appears where the skin has had most exposure to the sun (head, neck, hands, forearms and lower legs).
  • SCC generally grows quickly over weeks or months.

Learn more about Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Melanoma

  • Melanoma is a type of skin cancer which usually occurs on the parts of the body that have been overexposed to the sun.
  • It is the fourth most common cancer diagnosed in Australia, which along with New Zealand has the world's highest incidence rate for melanoma.
  • It is more commonly diagnosed in men than women.
  • Rare melanomas can occur in parts of the skin or body that have never been exposed to the sun.
  • In 2014, 13,134 new cases of melanoma were diagnosed in Australia, accounting for nearly one in ten cancer diagnoses.
  • In Australia in 2015, there were 1520 deaths due to melanoma.

Other skin Conditions that can lead to skin cancer

Actinic Keratosis

  • An Actinic Keratosis (AK), also known as a Solar Keratosis, is a crusty, scaly growth caused by damage from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or to artificial sources of UV light, such as tanning machines.
  • It is considered a precancer because if left alone, it could develop into a skin cancer.
  • Often appear on sun-exposed areas such as the face, bald scalp, ears, shoulders, neck and the back of the hands and forearms, as well as on the shins and other parts of the legs.

Atypical Moles

  • ATYPICAL MOLES are unusual-looking benign (noncancerous) moles, also known as dysplastic nevi (the plural of “nevus,” or mole).
  • They may resemble melanoma, and people who have them are at increased risk of developing melanoma in a mole or elsewhere on the body.
  • The higher the number of these moles someone has, the higher the risk.

There are many other types of benign lesions such as Seborrhoeic Keratoses and Dermatofibromas which you can also read about.

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