Skin Cancer Information 2024-04-04T13:02:26+00:00

Skin Cancer Information

2 in 3 Australians are diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70, according to the Cancer Council of Australia.

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world that’s why understanding skin cancer information is crucial for early detection and effective prevention.

What is Skin Cancer?

Skin cancer results from abnormal cell growth in the skin, primarily caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. This exposure damages the DNA within skin cells, leading to uncontrolled cell division and cancerous lesions.

Types of Skin Cancer 


Melanoma is one of the most aggressive forms of skin cancer originating in the skin’s pigment-producing cells (melanocytes). Melanocytes produce melanin, the pigment that gives skin its colour. Melanoma is often associated with atypical moles or dark spots on the skin.

Unlike other types of skin cancer, Melanoma has the potential to metastasise, spreading to other parts of the body, making it one of the most dangerous types of skin cancer. 

How does it look? 

  • Atypical moles with irregular borders.
  • Uneven colouring or multiple shades within a mole.
  • Changes in size, shape, or colour of existing moles.
  • Itching, tenderness, or pain in the affected area.
  • Bleeding or oozing from a mole.
Learn more about Melanoma

Basal Cell Carcinoma 

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer that arises in the skin’s basal cells, responsible for producing new skin cells. These cells maintain the skin’s structure and function. BCC typically occurs due to prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or other sources, and it develops in areas exposed to the sun, such as the face and neck.

How does it look? 

  • Pearly or waxy bump on the skin.
  • Visible blood vessels on the lesion’s surface.
  • Changes in Skin Texture.
  • Persistent sores that may not heal.
  • Shiny nodules.
  • Scaly patches on the skin.
Learn more about Basal Cell Carcinoma

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) originates in the squamous cells of the skin. These cells are responsible for the skin’s outer layer and its protective function. This mutation disrupts the normal cell cycle, leading to uncontrolled growth and the formation of cancerous tumours.

SCC occurs due to UV radiation exposure, making sun-exposed areas more susceptible to development.

How does it look? 

  • Red, scaly patches on the skin.
  • Open sores that may crust or bleed.
  • Changes in the appearance of existing growths.
  • Elevated Growths.
  • Rapid growth of new lesions.
Learn more about Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Diagnose & Skin Cancer Treatments

Skin Cancer Diagnosis typically involves a thorough examination by a dermatologist, who may use various methods such as skin biopsies, dermoscopy, or imaging tests to confirm the presence of cancerous cells. Once diagnosed, the choice of treatment depends on factors like the cancer’s location, stage, and type.

Surgical Procedures for Skin Cancer

1. Wide Local Excision:

Wide Local Excision involves surgically removing the tumour and a margin of healthy tissue. It is a common method for treating skin cancer by removing all cancer cells while minimising damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

2. Skin Grafts and Skin Flap:

Skin Grafts involve taking skin from one area of the body (the donor site) and transplanting it to cover the area where the cancer was removed. Skin Flap is similar but involves moving a section of skin, along with its blood vessels, from one area to another. Both techniques help in reconstructing the skin after extensive removal of cancerous tissue.

3. Mohs Surgery:

Mohs surgery is a precise technique for removing skin cancer layer by layer. After each removal, the tissue is examined under a microscope until no cancer cells are detected. This method is particularly effective for treating skin cancer on the face or areas where preserving healthy tissue is crucial.

Non-surgical Treatment for Skin Cancer

1. Cryosurgery:

Cryosurgery involves freezing and destroying cancerous cells using liquid nitrogen. It is commonly used for treating precancerous skin conditions or superficial skin cancers. The frozen tissue eventually sloughs off as the area heals.

2. Photodynamic Therapy:

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) combines a light-sensitizing drug and a specific type of light to target and destroy cancer cells selectively. It’s often used for treating certain types of skin cancers, especially those that are superficial or limited to the top layer of the skin.

3. Topical Treatments:

Topical treatments involve applying medications directly to the skin surface. These can include creams, gels or other substances that target and eliminate cancer cells.

Alternative Treatments for Skin Cancer

1. Immunotherapy:

Immunotherapy stimulates the body’s immune system to recognise and attack cancer cells. It can be administered topically, injected, or taken orally and is increasingly used as a treatment option for various types of skin cancer.

2. Radiotherapy:

Radiotherapy utilises high-dose radiation to target and destroy cancer cells. It’s often employed when surgery is not feasible or as a complementary treatment to eliminate any remaining cancer cells after surgery.

3. Chemotherapy:

Chemotherapy involves using drugs to kill rapidly dividing cancer cells. While less common for skin cancer, it may be employed in cases where the cancer has spread beyond the skin.

Learn more about our Skin Cancer Services

Risk Factors

  • Family History: Individuals with a family history of skin cancer are more susceptible.  
  • Sun Exposure:  UV rays can damage the DNA in skin cells, increasing the likelihood of abnormal cell growth.
  • Type of Skin: Fair-skinned individuals are more susceptible to skin cancer compared to those with darker skin tones. 
  • Age: Advancing age is a risk factor for skin cancer, as cumulative UV exposure over time increases the chances of DNA damage and abnormal cell growth.
  • Immune System: Individuals with weakened immune systems may be more susceptible to skin cancer, whether due to medical conditions or medications.  

Skin Cancer Prevention & Detection

  • Regular Check-ups

It’s recommended to have skin checks every 6-12 months to help detect early signs of skin cancer. 

  • Mole Mapping

Mole mapping involves creating a visual record of the skin’s surface and moles, aiding in the early detection of changes over time. This method helps to monitor and identify potential issues.

  • Sunscreen, Shade, and Hats

Apply sunscreen, seek shade during peak sun hours, and wear hats to help minimise exposure, reducing the risk of skin cancer.

  • Avoiding UV Radiation

Avoid tanning beds and other sources of artificial UV radiation. These practices contribute significantly to preventing the development of skin cancer.

The ABCDE Parameters

Early detection significantly increases the chances of successful treatment. The ABCDE parameters serve as a valuable guide:

A: Asymmetry – If one half of a mole or spot does not match the other.

B: Border – Irregular, blurred, or jagged edges.

C: Colour – Variation in colour or multiple colours within a mole.

D: Diameter – Moles exceeding 6 millimetres in diameter.

E: Evolution – Any change in size, shape, or colour over time.

Diagnosis can be scary, but you’re not alone

Facing a skin cancer diagnosis can be challenging, but Manningham Skin Cancer Clinic is here to provide comprehensive care and support. 

We invite you to book a consultation with our specialised team to take proactive steps towards your skin health. Our experts are dedicated to delivering personalised care, guiding you through the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.

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