WHAT IS SKIN CANCER
Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the skin. Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Over 95% of all skin cancers are caused by UV exposure. Common signs include a spot that looks and feels different from others on the skin; a spot that has changed size, shape, colour or texture; a sore that doesn’t heal within a few weeks; or a sore that is itchy or bleeds
SKIN CANCER TYPE
The three main types of skin cancer are :basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and melanoma. BCC and SCC are also called non-melanoma skin cancer or keratinocyte cancers.
SCC usually appears on parts of the body most frequently exposed to the sun, such as head, hands and lower legs, but it can occur anywhere on the skin. It can form metastases, particularly those on the face, ears and scalp. Although superficial sub-types of SCC can be treated by cryotherapy or cautery, the majority need excision, generally with a slightly wider margin than that needed for BCC.SCC tends to grow quickly over several weeks or months.
Although melanoma is a less common type of skin cancer, it is considered the most serious because it grows quickly and is more likely to spread to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, brain and bones, especially if not found early. The earlier melanoma is found, the more successful treatment is likely to be.
BCCs can range in appearance from a small reddish rash to a pearly pink lump. They can also be pigmented (dark), resemble a sore that doesn’t heal, or even look like a scar. They generally don’t metastasise (break off and form distant tumours or secondaries) and are easily treated, especially if found early. Treatment can range from cryotherapy (freezing) for superficial types, through to excision (surgery) for deeper tumours. Some superficial sub-types may respond to a topical cream.
HOW TO DO A SKIN CANCER CHECK
Checking your body for moles that exhibit warning signs of skin cancer is very important. Skin cancers that are found and removed early tend to be highly treatable, so by performing regular skin checks you are stacking the odds in your favour. Be as thorough as possible when you perform a skin check. Use a hand mirror to look under your arms and legs. You can use a hand mirror in combination with a bathroom mirror to check your back, or get help from a loved one.