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What does skin cancer look like?

What does skin cancer look like?

What does skin cancer look like?

Australians love the sun, sand and surf but living in a sunburnt country also puts us at a higher risk for skin cancer.

Two out of three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime. While we have become better at protecting ourselves from the harmful effects of UV exposure, we still need to be on the lookout for the signs of skin cancers.

Early diagnosis of melanoma is the key to survival, so it is important to know what you can do to detect skin cancer early.

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer develops in skin cells that are damaged, most commonly from exposure to the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

There are two basic types of skin cancer: melanoma and non-melanoma. There are more than 750,000 cases of non-melanoma, also known as keratinocyte cancers, in Australia per year but most are not life-threatening.

The most common types of non-melanoma are Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) and Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC).

BCC and SCCs can appear anywhere on the body but most commonly develops on the areas most exposed to the sun, and can grow slowly or quickly.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops in melanocytes, the skin cells responsible for producing the pigment in our skin.

It less common than non-melanoma, but it accounts for the majority of skin cancer deaths in Australia because it can spread to other organs in the body if not diagnosed and treated early.

A person dies every six hours in Australia from melanoma.

What does skin cancer look like?

Skin cancer doesn’t always present symptoms, but the first sign is usually a change in an existing mole or the appearance of a new spot.

Dr Anthony Rixon, Medical Director of Bass Coast Skin Doctors, recommends looking for a changing spot and/or a spot that looks very different – the ‘ugly duckling’ – from all your other spots.

They don’t need to be brown or black and, in fact, most non-melanoma skin cancers are pink or a fleshy colour.

Bleeding and pain are other clues to look for. Skin cancer can be flat or raised and can often be mistaken for a rash or a sore.

Even if you don’t have any moles or tan well, you can still develop skin cancer so make sure you can separate skin cancer myths from facts.

How do I know if I have skin cancer?

The only way to find a skin cancer is to look. Regular self-examination every three to four months is a great place to start.

As skin cancer can take many forms, it is important to consult an expert in skin cancer if you are concerned about any moles, freckles or spots.

Our expert skin doctors at Bass Coast Skin Doctors use state-of-the-art, high resolution digital photography, dermoscopy and mole mapping to correctly diagnose skin cancer and avoid unnecessary surgery.

Even if you are unsure if your spots have changed, it’s worth having a doctor check your skin yearly to ensure nothing is amiss.

At Bass Coast Skin Doctors, all of our doctors have extensive training and experience in diagnosis and treating skin cancer so you can have peace of mind you are in good hands.

Call our clinic on (03) 5618 7007 or book an appointment online for a skin check or mole mapping.