October 13, 2022

Skin Cancer Types: Melanoma, SCC, BCC, and Rare Cancers

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in Australia and according to the Cancer Council NSW, two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70 (you can read more statistics here).

Although you are certainly familiar with the term “skin cancer,” did you know that there are several different types? While melanoma is undoubtedly the most dangerous of the skin cancer types, there are three main types of skin cancer, as well as a few rarer varieties. Here’s a look at the most common types of skin cancer and what you should know about each one.

Learn about the different types of skin cancer

There are many different types of skin cancer, including melanoma, basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Knowing about the different types of skin cancer helps raise awareness and life-saving prevention.

Let’s get into it:

Melanoma

Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. It can often be deadly if it is not caught early and treated.

Melanomas most commonly develop in skin cells called melanocytes, which are responsible for producing the pigment that gives skin its colour. Melanomas usually occur on parts of the body that have been overexposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, but they can also develop in areas that have never been exposed to sunlight.

In rare cases, melanoma may even start inside the eye or in another part of the body where there is no direct exposure to UV radiation.

If left untreated, melanoma can spread to other parts of the body and become life-threatening.

However, if it is caught early, treatment is often successful. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of melanoma so that you can seek medical help as soon as possible if you think you may have this condition.

Melanoma often looks like a dark spot or mole. It may be black, brown, or tan – but also red, blue, or white. It may have an irregular shape and be larger than other moles on the body. It may also change in size, shape, or colour over time.

Please, keep in mind that if you have a mole that changes in any way, you should see a doctor right away.

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

BCC is the most common type of skin cancer, making up about 66% of all cases. It begins in the basal cells, which are located in the lower layer of the epidermis. BCCs usually grow slowly over a period of months or years, and only rarely spread to other parts of the body. If left untreated, some BCCs can grow deeper into the skin, invade nearby nerves, and damage surrounding tissue. This can make treatment more difficult.

There are several different types of treatments for BCC, including surgery, radiation therapy, and topical medications. The choice of treatment depends on the Type of the Basal cell cancer, size and location, as well as the patient’s age and overall health.

BCCs usually occur on parts of the body that get a lot of sun exposure, such as the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders, and hands. BCCs may also occur in areas that have not been exposed to the sun. BCCs often look like small bumps on the skin that are reddish, white, or flesh-toned. BCCs can also look like sores that bleed easily or do not heal.

So if you have a sore that does not heal or bleeds easily, you should see a doctor right away.

Finally, it is helpful to be aware that people who have had one BCC are at increased risk of developing another BCC.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

SCC is the second most common type of skin cancer, accounting for approximately 33% of all skin cancers. SCCs can grow rapidly, sometimes over the course of just a few weeks or months. In some cases, they may remain confined to the top layer of skin; these are referred to as SCC in situ, intraepidermal carcinoma, or Bowen’s disease. If SCC invades through the basement membrane, it is classified as an invasive SCC.

While SCCs are generally less aggressive than melanomas (the most common type of skin cancer), they can still be highly dangerous if left untreated. SCC has potential to metastasise ( spread to other parts of the body) Consequently, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of SCC, which include changing skin lesions/growths. With or without itching, irritation or pain.

SCCs usually occur on parts of the body that get a lot of sun exposure, such as the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders, and hands. However, SCCs may also occur in areas that have not been exposed to the sun.

SCCs often look like small bumps or lumps on the skin that are reddish, white, or flesh-toned. SCCs can also look like sores that bleed easily or do not heal. If you have a sore that does not heal or bleeds easily, you should see a doctor right away.

Rare Skin Cancers

There are many other types of skin cancer that are much less common than melanoma, BCC, and SCC. These rare skin cancers can be highly dangerous and usually need treatment in a tertiary unit. Rare types of skin cancers include:

// Kaposi’s sarcoma
// Merkel cell carcinoma
// Skin lymphoma
// Skin adnexal tumours

If you have any concerns about a lesion on your skin, you should see a doctor right away for an evaluation.

Conclusion

There are many different types of skin cancer, ranging from relatively benign conditions to deadly melanomas. It’s important to be familiar with the different types of skin cancer, and their symptoms so that you can seek treatment early if necessary. On this site, you will find important resources that will help you understand better prevention and treatment regarding skin cancer.

However, please remember that nothing can replace an in-person consultation with an accredited skin cancer doctor.

For any concerns about a skin lesion, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with King Street Skin Cancer Clinic today.


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