The three main types of skin cancer
There are three main types of skin cancer - melanoma, basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). If diagnosed and treated early 95% of melanoma and 99% of SCC/BCC can be cured.
BASAL CELL CARCINOMA
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common cancer in the world. Despite this, very few people die from BCC. The two most common types are nodular and superficial BCC which are easily treatable.
- The 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.
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and 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 become deadly. Survival rate is largely dependent on the thickness of melanoma; a patient with a melanoma of less than 0.75 mm thick can expect to have a 95% cure rate. If left until greater than 4mm thick, the cure rate drops to less than 55%, which is why it is so important to detect melanoma early.
LEARN MORE ABOUT MELANOMA
SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common skin cancer, typically found on the ear, face, lips, hands or lower legs. SCC is more dangerous than basal cell carcinoma because of its ability to spread to other parts of the body. The pre-invasive phase, SCC in situ, is often called Bowen's disease. Bowen's disease characteristically presents with one or more dry or crusted red or brown patches. Invasive SCC usually grows within a solar keratosis (scaly spots due to sun damage) and presents as a tender scaly or ulcerated lump. Invasive SCC needs to be attended to promptly as there is a risk of secondary spread.