Skin Cancer Information Sheet

Queensland is predicted to have the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. The pertinence of Skin cancer checks, and treatment largely comes from the statistical fact that two out of three Australian’s will develop some form of skin cancer in their life.

Skin cancer is defined as the abnormal growth of cells in the epidermis (outermost layer of the skin).
It has the capacity to grow in areas of the body that are not even exposed to the sun, that is why it is essential to have a full body skin check with your doctor (including beneath undergarments). There are a range of different types of skin cancer, the main forms and their characteristic identifiers are briefly listed below:

Melanoma is the most aggressive and potentially life-threatening type of skin cancer. It often develops from abnormal moles or appears as a new, pigmented growth on the skin. Early detection is crucial, as melanoma can metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body if left untreated.

SCC is the second most common type of skin cancer, characterized by abnormal cells in the outer layers of the skin. It typically appears as a red, scaly bump or patch that may bleed or develop a crust. Although it has a higher risk of spreading than basal cell carcinoma, SCC is usually curable when detected and treated early.

BCC is the most common type of skin cancer, typically occurring in sun-exposed areas of the body. It often appears as a pearly, translucent bump or a pink, waxy patch on the skin. While it tends to grow slowly and rarely spreads to other parts of the body, early treatment is still essential to prevent local tissue damage.

Conditions which develop into or can predispose you to skin cancer:

Actinic keratosis is a precancerous condition characterized by rough, scaly patches on the skin.
Prolonged sun exposure, particularly without protection, is the primary cause of actinic keratosis. If left untreated, a small percentage of actinic keratosis lesions can progress to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).

Dysplastic nevi, also known as atypical moles, are unusual-looking moles that have irregular shape, colour, or border. Individuals with many dysplastic nevi or a family history of melanoma have a higher risk of developing melanoma. Regular monitoring and evaluation of dysplastic nevi by a dermatologist are essential to detect any changes that may indicate the development of melanoma.

Having a family history of skin cancer, particularly melanoma, can predispose individuals to develop the disease. Inherited genetic factors can contribute to an increased susceptibility to skin cancer. Individuals with a family history of skin cancer should be vigilant in practicing sun protection, self-examinations, and regular skin screenings by a healthcare professional.

Prolonged and repeated exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can cause cumulative damage to the skin. Over �me, sun-damaged skin may develop various signs, such as wrinkles, age spots, dryness, and texture changes. Sun-damaged skin, especially in individuals with fair skin, can increase the risk of developing skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell
carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma.

Certain conditions or medical treatments that weaken the immune system, such as organ transplantation, HIV/AIDS, or immunosuppressive medications, can increase the risk of skin cancer. A compromised immune system may have difficulty detecting and eliminating cancerous cells, allowing skin cancers to develop more easily. Regular skin examinations and sun protection measures are crucial for individuals with immunodeficiency to minimize the risk of skin cancer and detect any abnormalitiues early.

It is important to note that while these conditions can increase the risk of developing skin cancer, they do not guarantee its occurrence. Nonetheless, taking preventive measures, such as sun protection, regular skin checks, and seeking medical advice, can help mitigate the risks associated with these predisposing factors.