Skin Cancer and You

Current research indicates that 1 in 75 Americans will develop some form of skin cancer while the rate in Australia is 1 in 30. Most skin cancers are due to excessive sun exposure and can be prevented. If detected and treated early most skin cancers can be cured.


Types of Skin Cancer

Melanoma is the rarest yet most dangerous form of skin cancer.Melanomas can appear at any age and on any area of the body. They can develop from existing moles but can also grow from normal skin. Look for a change in the size, shape, color or surface texture of a spot. Early detection is vital.


Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the most common and least dangerous of skin cancers. BCC's can appear in exposed areas as a lump or scaly area that is red, pale or pearly in colour on the head, neck, upper torso and limbs. They grow slowly and may become ulcerated like an unhealing or recurring sore. BCC's are easily treated.


Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer. It is not as dangerous as melanoma but may spread to other parts of the body if not treated. SCC's arise from the skin usually in sun-exposed areas such as head, neck, hands, forearms, trunk and lower limbs. They can grow quite rapidly, usually as a pink, scaly lump that may also ulcerate


Solar Keratoses (Sunspot) most often appear on sun-exposed skin in the over 40 group. Sunspots are not cancerous but should be considered as a warning that you are susceptible to skin cancer. Sunspots are characterised by red, flat areas that appear scaly and may sting if scratched.


Signs of Skin Cancer 

A General Guide

  • Any mole or ulcer that does not heal.
  • Any new "mole" which appears and grows.
  • Any existing "mole" which changes, particularly if it develops an irregular edge and/or variations in color (black, brown, pink)
  • Any "mole" which bleeds or which is persistently itchy.