Skin cancer is the most prevalent of all cancers. The main cause is over exposure to sunlight, especially sunburn. Family history is also an important risk factor. In the treatment of any skin cancers, early detection and removal is the best defence. As the sun is the main culprit, the most effective form of protection is sun avoidance.There are three main types of skin cancer:Melanoma:
The most serious form of skin cancer. Melanoma may appear without warning but it may also begin in a mole or other dark spot in the skin. Melanoma can spread very quickly and once it penetrates below the surface of the skin, it can becomes quite deadly. That is why it is important to detect melanoma early. Early detection offers the best long term prognosis.Thinking ABCD can help you remember what to watch out for:Asymmetry - The shape of one half does not match the other.
Border - The edges are often ragged, notched, blurred, or irregular in outline; the pigment may spread into the surrounding skin.
Colour - The colour is uneven. Shades of black, brown, and tan may be present. Areas of white, grey, red, pink, or blue also may be seen.Diameter - Size changes and usually increases. Typically, melanomas are at least 6mm in diameter (the diameter of a pencil).
Some melanomas do not fit the ABCD rule described above so if you notice a mole that is:
- changes shape, size or colour
Don’t delay, it may need immediate professional attention.
Remember, the earlier we detect and treat melanoma, the better the chance of making a full recovery, consult your doctor.
Basal Cell Carcinoma:
BCC is the most common form of skin cancer and is very prevalent in Australia and New Zealand. The most common nodular type of BCC appears as a slowly-growing shiny white, pink or discoloured bump, most often on the face or neck. The superficial type of BCC presents as one or more irregular red scaly patches growing on the trunk or limbs.
BCC may invade into deeper tissues but does not spread to other parts of the body. Multiple BCCs are common.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma:
SCC is a common form of skin cancer typically found on the ear, face, lips, hands or lower legs. Invasive SCC usually grows within a solar keratosis (scaly spots due to sun damage) and presents as a tender scaly or ulcerated lump. The preinvasive phase, SCC in situ (often called Bowen's disease), characteristically presents with one or more dry or crusted red or brown patches.
Invasive SCC needs to be attended to promptly as there is a risk of secondary spread.
If you are concerned about a lesion then please do not hesitate to act. Contact your doctor now