If you notice an abnormality on your skin you may be tempted to ignore it. However, if it is skin cancer you could be putting your health at risk by waiting to get a skin and mole check. There are three main types of skin cancer in Australia with melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, and they each have their own set of unique characteristics. The most important thing to remember is that if you delay treatment of skin cancer it could have life threatening consequences:
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer in Australia, and while it only accounts for 2% of skin cancer incidences, it causes 75% of the deaths. When treated early the cure rate is high, but as a fast growing cancer any action needs to be taken urgently. Melanoma can appear suddenly or show up in an existing mole.
Warning signs to look for in moles may include itching, bleeding, blurred edges and changes in colour. In as little as 6 weeks melanoma can put your life at risk as it has the ability to grow quickly and spread to other parts of your body including your organs. It can be present in any area, even those which haven’t been in the sun, although sun exposure is a common cause. During the early stages melanoma can be removed surgically, but as it progresses chemotherapy or radiation may be required. Melanoma is serious and can be fatal if left untreated.
Basal cell carcinoma is a slow growing cancer, but this doesn’t mean it can be ignored. This is the least dangerous form of skin cancer and rarely spreads to other internal parts of the body. While death is a rare consequence there is the potential for disfigurement. Over time basal cell carcinoma can expand and cause ulcers and damage the skin and tissues.
Any damage could be permanent and have an impact on the way you look. Depending on how long the basal cell carcinoma has been present, radiotherapy may be required. This is the most common form of skin cancer and is often found on the face. You may notice a small lump which is shiny or pearl like and this is a sign you should get checked. This type of cancer generally does not cause any pain.
The third type of skin cancer we have to be cautious of in Australia is squamous cell carcinoma. This is potentially life threatening and is most dangerous when found on the face, lips, ears or neck. As it grows, there is the chance it may spread to the lymph nodes and internal organs, and while it isn’t as fast growing as melanoma, it still requires treatment.
You may notice squamous cell carcinoma in the top layer of your skin and it will likely be red and scaly. Surgery is often used for removal, but if it has progressed significantly some reconstruction to the face may be needed. This is the second most common form of skin cancer, and can be quite painful to touch.
All skin cancer has the potential to be fatal, and regular checks and any necessary treatment is recommended. Melanoma is by far the most serious form of skin cancer, and if suspected you should seek an urgent skin check. Please contact My Skin Centre to book your appointment in the Perth region.
With multiple locations throughout Perth and the South West there is a clinic near you!