top of page

Skin Cancer

(updated July 2019)

Skin cancer occurs when there is damage to the DNA structure of normal skin cells which leads to uncontrolled and abnormal cell growth. This damage is commonly (but not always) caused by overexposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, and can be amplified by a number of other risk factors


The commonest types of skin cancer can be broken down into two groups; non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) and melanoma.

Non Melanoma Skin Cancer
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
BCC 2_edited.jpg
Dermoscopy BCC 2.jpg
BCC Nose_edited.jpg
Dermoscopy BCC_edited.jpg

  • Approximately 70% of all NMSC

  • Can be found anywhere on the body but usually sun exposed areas

  • Generally slow growing over months to years

  • Can often become inflamed and bleed (eg. drying off with a towel or a repeatedly bleeding spot whilst shaving)

  • Can look like a pearly lump or a dry, scaly, pink area

  • Are also often diagnosed on skin checks where patients are completely unaware (asymptomatic)

  • Rarely spread to other areas (metastasise)

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)​
Dermoscopy Well Differentiated SCC_edite
  • Approximately 30% of all NMSC

  • Can appear anywhere but usually sun exposed areas

  • Can often present as a raised, scaly lesion with bleeding, ulceration or tenderness

  • Can be thick or flat, scaly, crusty and rapidly growing

  • May spread if left untreated, especially on high risk body areas including nose, lips, ears​

Melanoma Dermoscopy_edited.jpg
Dermoscopy Amelanotic
  • Melanoma rates in Australia are some of the highest in the world.

  • 3rd most common cancer in Australian men (after prostate and bowel)

  • 3rd most common cancer in Australian women (after breast and bowel)

  • Represents 2% of all skin cancers, but is attributed to 75% of skin cancer deaths

  • Serious, metastatic potential but if detected and treated early can result in complete cure

  • It is important to note that not all melanomas are pigmented and can be "amelanotic" as seen on the image above (right)

Are you at risk of skin cancer?

Visit the Scan you Skin website to learn more about skin cancer and to calculate your own risk of developing skin cancer.

bottom of page