Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer and is associated with a history of multiple sunburns. Each year in Australia, nearly 10,000 new cases are diagnosed, with 1,200 people dying from this disease every year. Melanoma develops over weeks to months. If untreated, cancer cells may spread to other parts of the body. If treated early, 95% are cured. It may appear as a new spot, or an existing? spot, freckle or mole that changes in colour, size or shape. It usually has an irregular or smudgy outline and is more than one colour. A melanoma can be black, pink, purple, red, multicoloured and even pale. Melanoma may grow over weeks to months, anywhere on the body.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma is not as dangerous as melanoma but may spread to other parts of the body if not treated. A thickened red, scaly spot. Later it may bleed easily or ulcerate. Usually appears on sites most often exposed to the sun. Usually grows over some months.
Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common and least dangerous skin cancer. May appear as a lump or scaling area. Is red, pale or pearly in colour. As it grows it may become ulcerated like an unhealing sore or one that heals then breaks down again. Grows slowly, usually on the head, neck and upper chest.
Is not skin cancer, but a warning that you may be more prone to melanoma. Often flat, fairly large moles which share some of the features of early melanoma. Characterised by irregular borders and uneven colour with multiple shades of brown and sometimes pink.
Is not a skin cancer but a warning that you are prone to developing skin cancer. Characterised by red, flattish, scaling areas which may sting if scratched. Sunspots appear on sun exposed skin in people over 40 years of age.
Freckles are harmless coloured spots that range in size from 1 to 10mm. Moles are evenly coloured and may be raised although they do not have to be. Moles have clear, even edges and are usually circular or oval in shape.
By the age of 60, most people have at least one or two of these. They have a very discrete edge and frequently sit up on top of the skin. Colour varies from pale skin through orange to black. Size varies from few millimetres to 2cm.
A: Asymmetry (unevenness) – one half of the spot doesn’t match the other.
B: Border – the edges of the spot are irregular, ragged, notched or blurred.
C: Colour – the colour of the spot is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, red, white or blue.
D: Diameter – the spot is larger than 6mm across (about 1/4 inch) or is growing larger.
E: Evolution and/or elevation – the spot may change in shape or size (enlarge) and a flat spot may become raised in a matter of a few weeks.
If you notice anything new or unusual on your skin, see your doctor.