The three main types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and melanoma. BCC and SCC are also called non-melanoma skin cancer or keratinocyte cancers.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

The most common form of skin cancer but the least dangerous.

  • Appear as round or flattened lump or scaly spots.
  • Red, pale or pearly in colour.
  • May become ulcerated, bleed and fail to heal.
  • Grows slowly over months or years and rarely spreads to other parts of the body
  • The earlier a BCC is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat. If left untreated, it can grow deeper into the skin and damage nearby tissue, making treatment more difficult.
  • Having one BCC increases the risk of getting another. It is possible to have more than one BCC at the same time on different parts of the body.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Less common, but more dangerous than basal cell carcinoma. It makes up about 30% of non-melanoma skin cancers.

  • If left untreated, SCC can spread to other parts of the body. This is known as invasive SCC. SCC on the lips and ears is more likely to spread
  • Look for scaly red areas that may bleed easily, ulcers or non-healing sores that are often painful.
  • Grows over a period of months.
  • Commonly found on lips, ears, and scalp.

Melanoma Skin Cancer

Although melanoma is a less common type of skin cancer, it is considered the most serious because it grows quickly and is more likely to spread to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, brain and bones, especially if not found early.

  • The earlier melanoma is found, the more successful treatment is likely to be.
  • Can appear in a new or an existing spot, freckle or mole that changes colour, size or shape.
  • Grows over weeks to months anywhere on the body (not just areas that get lots of sun).
  • Occurs most frequently on the upper back in males and on the lower body in females