Living in Australia means living with the risk of skin cancer. Australia has the highest rates of melanoma in the world, making it our third most common type of cancer.
Melanomas are likely to grow and spread if left untreated, so it’s important to be aware of them. Yet for all the publicity around melanoma, there are two other types of skin cancer that are more common – basal cell cancers (or carcinomas, BCC’s) and squamous cell cancers (SCC’s)
What are basal and squamous cell skin cancers? What is the difference between a BCC and a SCC?
BCC’s grow in basal cells, whose primary function is to generate new skin cells. They are microscopic in size.
In contrast, SCC’s are caused by abnormal changes in squamous cells. These flat cells are shed constantly as they are found near the skin’s surface.
Both cancers are most likely to appear on the sections of your skin that receive sun exposure, such as your arms, neck and head, but can also appear elsewhere.
What do basal cell cancers and squamous cancer cells look like?
Basal cell cancers can show up as a little shiny dome shape or a flat red/pink patch.
Similarly, squamous cell cancers may start as a red patch that can develop into a scab or scaling sore that just won’t go away. Other SCC’s might look like a wart. They may also be tender to touch.
How serious is basal cell skin cancer and squamous cell cancer?
BCC’s and SCC’s probably aren’t as well-known as melanoma because they’re less likely to spread. They may simply sit on your skin and keep growing without posing a threat.
However, in rare incidents these cancers can start to aggressively spread throughout your body. SCC’s are more likely to spread than BCC’s.
The growth rate of every individual tumour will vary. BCC’s and SCC’s can grow quite large which then makes them difficult to treat. As with most health issues, early intervention is key.
Is basal cell cancer and squamous cell cancer treatable?
The good news is, there are a range of treatments available for basal cell cancers (BCC) and squamous cell cancers (SCC).
In most cases, a biopsy will be taken to confirm the type and depth of the cancer. If the cancer is found only on the surface of the skin, it can often be treated with light therapy, freezing or specific creams that target cancer cells.
If it’s found that the cancer has travelled deeper into the skin, it will often need to be removed surgically, usually under a local anaesthetic. Occasionally, radiotherapy is required if surgery is not an option, or it is preferred by the patient.
Skin Cancer Screenings at Azure Medical
It is advised that all Australians have an annual skin check, especially if you are over 40 years of age or have a spot you are concerned about.
A skin check is quick and simple. The friendly doctors at Azure Medical have specific training, experience and expertise in the detection and management of skin cancers.
Specific magnifying equipment will be used to identify cancers that can often look like a common harmless mark to the naked eye. In cases which require specialist input, this can of course be arranged in a timely manner.
Please call 9286 9900 to book your skin cancer screening, or book online via our website to organise your skin cancer check today.