At Penrith Skin Cancer Foundation, we eagerly share what we know so that patients grow increasingly aware of the important skin cancer facts. This allows you to understand why certain medical, surgical or laser procedures are necessary to make treatments successful.
One of the most common types of skin cancer (80%), BCC forms in the skin’s basal cells. Mostly occurring in the sun- exposed areas of the face (mainly), neck, upper trunk and limbs (10%), it develops slowly over the years.
Usually caused by cumulative sun exposure, these look like open sores, red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps or scars. BCC almost never spreads via lymph nodes or through the bloodstream. This can be a problem if these skin growths spread deeply around the nose, eyes or ears.
Squamous cell carcinoma is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells arising in the squamous cells that make up most of the skin’s upper layers. It may look like red patches, open sores, elevated growths or warts that may crust or bleed. SCCs most commonly occur on sun-exposed areas, such as the ears, lips, face, balding scalps, necks, arms, hands and legs. These can spread and may involve regional lymph nodes.
Bowen’s disease is superficial SCC in situ of the skin that grows slowly, has well-defined margins, is thick and may look like red plaques. Lesions may remain unchanged for months or years.
Unusual-looking moles, also called dysplastic naevi, may look like melanoma. People who have them have bigger risks of developing melanoma. Heredity also contributes to the development of atypical moles.
The more atypical moles a person has, the higher the risks he or she has of contracting melanoma. Proper sun protection, regular personal head-to-toe and professional skin checks are necessary to prevent this.
Also called actinic keratosis, these are scaly spots found on the sun-damaged skin. Considered precancerous, solar keratosis may lead to forming cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. This is abnormal skin cell development due to DNA damage caused by UVB.
This is the most dangerous form of skin cancer most often caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sunshine or tanning beds. There is an uncontrolled growth of melanocytes (pigment cells) which are black or brown and can appear to be skin-toned, pink, red, blue, purple or white.
Having regular skin checks can help diagnose melanoma in its early stages. If cancer growth spreads to other parts of the body, it becomes hard to treat and may cause death.
The highest reported rates of melanoma in the world are in Australia and New Zealand. The factors include:
Depending on melanoma thickness, excision procedures follow diagnosis. Enlarged local lymph nodes are removed while unenlarged ones are tested to see if there is any spreading. In cases of widespread melanoma, new or experimental treatments may be offered.