Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC): The most common, but least dangerous. Almost 300,000 people are diagnosed each year in Australia with this condition and it usually occurs in people over the age of 40. It grows from cells in the bottom (basal) part of the outer layer of the skin, and the growth tends to be quite slow, taking periods of months to years.
This type of cancer rarely spreads throughout the body. While the least dangerous, it should not be taken lightly and needs to be treated immediately. BCC occurs most commonly on the face, head, neck and trunk areas of the body, and can be found in areas which are difficult to treat, including the eyelids and lower legs. BBC are curable in most cases and you can achieve excellent cosmetic results especially if caught early.
Types of BCCs include:
- Nodular and nodular-ulcerative: A common type of BCC that usually occurs on the face. They grow slowly, usually starts off as a small pearly round, hard, red or red-grey lumps. If left untreated, they will grow larger and begin to ulcerate.
- Superficial: Least aggressive of BCCs. Mainly found on the body, they appear as a scaly red, round to oval patch, up to 3 cm in diameter. If left untreated, they can grow as large as 10-15 cm without any ulceration. The edge of this type is difficult to distinguish. They may be a little itchy at times.
- Pigmented BCC: More common with people of darker skin, such as Latin Americans and those of Asian heritage, these BCCs are similar to the nodular BCCs, with areas of pigmentation (darker areas). Due to its appearance, it may be confused with the more serious melanoma.
- Morphoeic BCC: These look a little like firm yellow-white scars and are often mistaken for them. The borders are usually indistinct, so they can be bigger than you first think. As they have an aggressive growth, it is important to get early treatment – they can invade muscles, nerves and bone if left alone.
Squamous Cell Treatment: The second most common form of skin cancer, these grow more quickly than a BCC, and have the ability to spread throughout the body quickly.
It is important you get to know your own skin so that you can recognise new or changing moles. In addition to this, it is advisable to have an annual professional skin cancer check to detect melanomas at the earliest stage possible when treatment is most effective.
Melanoma: The most dangerous form of skin cancer, with 1200 Australians dying from this disease each year. Studies from Cancer Council Australia showed that melanoma affects over 11,000 Australians each year. The average age of a person being diagnosed with melanoma is 61 years old, so those who are older will be more susceptible to developing this form of cancer.
The majority of melanoma is caused frequent UV exposure, especially those who’ve had multiple sunburns from tanning beds or sunbaking. Melanoma often resemble moles, the majority are black and brown in colour. However, they can also be pink, purple, red, blue or white. If melanoma is recognised and treated early, it is almost always curable. if not, the cancer can spread quickly to other parts of the body, which becomes hard to treat and can be fatal. While melanomas aren’t the most common cancers, it causes the most deaths.