There are three main types of skin cancer:

  • Basal call carcinoma (BCC)
  • Squamous call carcinoma (SCC)
  • Melanoma

BCCs rarely spread and can almost always be treated locally. SCCs sometimes spread but are not usually highly aggressive. Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer since it can spread quite early.

All three types of skin cancer are almost entirely caused by sun exposure and are more common in fair-skinned people living in sunny climates (Australia and South Africa have the highest rates of skin cancer).

Skin cancers usually begin as new moles or as changes in existing moles. Worrying signs include spread/growth, colour changes (darkening usually), bleeding, ulcer-formation, scabbing, and itch.

The proper use of sun-screen – use at least SPF15 and apply regularly, every day – and avoiding prolonged sun-exposure will reduce the risk significantly. Any worrying change in a mole, or the appearance of a new mole, should be checked by your doctor.

BCC and SCC are very rarely fatal. The 5-year survival rate for melanoma depends on the degree of spread mainly, but can be as high as 90% with early detection and good modern treatment.

There are three main types of skin cancer, of which melanoma is the most serious. Avoiding sun exposure, using sun-screen, and having any suspicious moles checked by your doctor, are all critically important.