The abnormal growth or destruction of skin cells defines skin cancer. It can appear as a flakey lesion, rash, or a non-healing spot or pimple. Regular skin checks can help identify early signs of melanoma before they advance.
Full skin checks along with routine mole surveillance are performed by a dermatologist (skin, hair and nail specialist) to examine abnormalities and identify cancerous lesions. While regular self-checks should be completed every three months, it is important to visit a medical professional at least once a year to have the skin assessed more thoroughly.
Skin cancer is the rapid growth of abnormal cells in the epidermis (the outermost skin layer), caused by unrepaired DNA damage that triggers mutations. This mutation process leads the skin cells to multiply and form malignant tumours. There are three main types of skin cancer:
Non-melanoma skin cancers are the most common cancers in Australia, however, most are not life-threatening. The most common are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
BCC begins in the basal cells – a type of cell within the skin that produces new skin cells as old ones die off. SCC develops in the thin, flat squamous cells that form the outer layer of the skin. Both types generally appear on parts of the body that receive high or intermittent ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and commercial tanning beds.
The main difference between basal cell cancers and squamous cell cancers is that squamous cell cancer is more likely to grow deeper into the layers of the skin and spread to other parts of the body.
A type of skin cancer in the cells that produce pigment, called melanocytes. Often black or brown in colour, it can spread to other parts of the body including the lymph nodes, bone, lung, liver, and brain.
Developing anywhere on the body, most melanomas can be cured if they are identified and treated early. If left untreated, they can spread to other parts of the body and can become life-threatening.
Mole checks are thorough skin examinations for abnormalities that are performed as a preventative approach to skin cancer. A dermatologist specialises in providing expert diagnosis and early detection of skin cancers using in-house mole photography and dermoscopic monitoring technologies.
The characteristics of melanoma are defined by the ABCDE rule, which stands for asymmetry, border, colour, diameter, and evolving. A dermatologist will use this rule when diagnosing and classifying melanomas.
The photographic screening process of those at high risk of malignant melanoma. A clinical examination of the whole body is performed to identify and evaluate lesions of concern. Skin surveillance is especially crucial for individuals who have: