Non-melanoma skin cancer refers to all types of skin cancer that don’t include melanoma.
The most common types of non-melanoma skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma (or BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (or SCC).
BCC accounts for c70% of non-melanoma skin cancers. BCC is the most common form of skin cancer. They arise from basal cells that are located in the upper level of the skin (epidermis).
BCCs can occur anywhere on the body but are most commonly found (c80% of the time) in areas that are most exposed to sunlight which is likely to include your head, face, neck, arms and legs.
BCCs can take on numerous forms which make them hard to identify but they may appear as a pinkish patch which is flat, or a pinkish lump which can look pearly or shiny, a sore that does not heal, a spot that bleeds or a scar like area.
SCCs account for c30% of non-melanoma skin cancers. SCCs arise from uncontrolled growth of squamous cells in the upper level of the skin. SCCs usually appear in areas of the body that have been most exposed to the sun.
SCCs also take on lots of different looks, so they are not easily identifiable either. The most common appearance for a SCC is a scaly raised lump. They can also appear as wart-like growths with persistent scaly red patches or open sores that fail to heal quickly.
Most non-melanoma skin cancers will be removed by a doctor or dermatologist under a local anaesthetic and that is the end of it. However, if a non-melanoma skin cancer has advanced it can spread, in some cases to the lymph nodes which may require more serious forms of cancer treatment.
It is true that the survival rate for non-melanoma skin cancer is much higher than it is for melanoma, but one shouldn’t be too complacent about non-melanoma skin cancer. Sadly, around 600 Australian’s die each year from non-melanoma skin cancer.
Over 95% of non-melanoma skin cancers are caused by overexposure to the sun.
Dermatologists agree that wearing sun protective clothing and a broad brim sun hat is the best way to prevent skin cancer which results from the cumulative effects of sun exposure.
Australia is the global leader in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of skin cancer.
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