SKIN CANCER DETECTION PREVENTION AND TREATMENT
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Australia, with 80 per cent of all cancers diagnosed in Australia being skin cancer. Queensland has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. The early diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer can dramatically improve the outcome. We recommend that you receive yearly skin checks for early detection and to make an appointment if you have any concerns with existing skin lessions.
Unlike other Medical Practices specialising in the treatment of skin cancer detection our Doctors all hold formal qualification’s specifically in the area of skin cancer medicine so that means when you are looking at getting a skin cancer check or a mole removed you are coming to people that have experience in this area.
WHAT IS SKIN CANCER
Skin cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the lower layer of the epidermis (the outer layer of skin). The epidermis contains three different types of cells: squamous cells, basal cells and melanocytes.Skin cancer is predominantly caused by an accumulation of overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation (UVR) penetrating the skin and damaging these living cells.
The majority of skin cancers if detected early can be successfully treated and cured. Even the more serious types of skin cancers like melanomas can be cured in 95 per cent of cases if found and treated early.
TYPES OF SKIN CANCER
There are essentially three types of skin cancers.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common but least dangerous form of skin cancer, accounting for about 70 per cent of all skin cancers in Australia. A BCC appears as a lump or scaly area. It may be red, pale or pearly in colour and as it grows, it may become ulcerated like a sore that won’t heal. A BCC grows slowly and is most commonly found on the head, neck and upper torso.It is important to remember if there is one BCC, there is likely to be another occurring now or in later years.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
The second most common form of skin cancer is the SCC. It may grow much faster than a BCC. SCC’s may occasionally spread throughout the body (metastasize). SCCs usually form a scaly, quickly growing pink lump or wart-like growth, which may also break down, crust, bleed and ulcerate. They do not usually cause pain but may be tender, or cause a burning or stinging sensation. They most commonly occur on areas exposed to a lot of sunlight such as the face, ears, (bald) scalp, lips and backs of the hands. People who have had organ transplants, or medications to suppress their immune system for other reasons, are at higher risk of developing SCCs. In transplant patients SCCs are also more likely to grow quickly and spread throughout the body. This makes regular skin checks and early treatment of skin cancers extremely important for people who have had transplants or have suppressed immune systems for other reasons.
Melanoma is the least common but most dangerous form of skin cancer accounting for approximately 5 per cent of all skin cancers. A melanoma appears as a new spot, or an existing spot, freckle or mole that changes colour, size or shape. Usually, a melanoma has an irregular or smudgy outline and is more than one colour.
A melanoma grows over a period of weeks to months and can be anywhere on the body, not only in areas frequently exposed to the sun. If left untreated, the cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body. Most deaths from skin cancer are the result of melanomas.
Skin spots Solar keratoses, or sunspots, are not a form of skin cancer but, like skin cancers, they are the result of sun exposure. Sunspots are scaling spots, which are red or occasionally brown in colour. They appear on areas of the skin that are most frequently exposed to the sun such as the face, ears, neck, forearms and hands. Occasionally, sunspots may develop into a skin cancer, however the probability is low.
Sunspots are a warning sign. They occur on skin which has had enough sun exposure to develop skin cancer and skin cancers are more common in people with sunspots. If you have sunspots you should watch out for signs of early skin cancers and take extra care when out in the sun.
Moles are harmless, coloured spots that range from one millimetre to ten millimetres in diameter, are uniform in shape, even-coloured and may be raised. Some have uneven borders and multiple colours like brown and black. The more moles or freckles you have the higher your risk of sun damage, so if there is any sign of change, see a health professional immediately.
Seborrhoeic keratoses are spots with a clear edge; they look like they sit on top of the skin. They vary in colour from pale brown to orange or black and vary in size from a few millimetres to two centimetres. Most people have a few of these spots by the age of 60.
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