Basal Cell, Squamous Cell and Melanoma Cancers
Worldwide skin cancer is the most common cancer in both men and women.
Skin cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the skin.
Most spots people have on their skin are harmless, but some are not!
Most people have spots on their skin and in most cases, these spots are completely harmless. There are, however, certain telltale signs with some spots that you need to get professionally trained medical personnel to properly diagnose which include
- Skin Sores – scaly, itchy, bleeding or non-healing.
- Changing Spots – size, shape or colour.
- Abnormal Spots – different to other skin spots.
- New Spots – up to 70% of melanomas are new spots.
Basal Cell or BCC’s represents approximately 75% of all skin cancers. These skin lesions can appear like red patches or open skin sores. Unlike Melanoma, Basal Cell skin cancer is not a dangerous type of cancer, but Basal Cell cancers should not be taken lightly as they can be disfiguring if not treated promptly. There is also a danger of untreated BCC’s invading localised structures such as nerves, eyelids and cartilage or bone.
Squamous Cell or SCC’s, is the second most common form of skin cancer, representing approximately 20% of all skin cancers. Squamous Cell s appears as thin, flat cells that form the top layer of the epidermis. SCC’s often look like scaly red patches, open sores, elevated growths with a central depression, or warts they may bleed or crust. These are often grouped as non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC). SCC’s are rarely fatal but do cause local destruction and still needs treatment.
Melanocytes are found in the lower part of the epidermis, these cells make melanin, the pigment that gives skin its natural colour. Melanoma accounts for less than 5% per cent of all skin cancers, it is responsible for almost 80% of skin cancer deaths. Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, was the fourth most common cancer in males and third in females in New Zealand in 2004. Worldwide, the incidence of melanoma is increasing at a rate faster than any other malignancy. In New Zealand, melanoma is the most common cancer in women aged between 15 to 24 years old.