There are few different types of skin cancer, but the most common three are basal cell carcinomas (BCCs), squamous cell carcinomas (SCC), and melanomas. BCCs and SCCs are often referred to as non-melanoma skin cancers.

Basal cell carcinomas

These are the most common skin cancer in Australia, and make up about two thirds of skin cancer diagnoses. They tend to grow slowly and can look like small flattened spots that are pale or red in colour, or sometimes scaly like eczema.  These can continue to grow larger and larger unless they are treated.

Squamous cell carcinomas

These make up about one third of skin cancer diagnoses in Australia and about one quarter of skin cancer deaths are from SCCs. They tend to be slower growing and can spread if not treated.  They are also more likely to occur in people who get a lot of continuous sun, like outdoor workers.  They can look like red scaly areas that bleed easily, or unhealed sores.  They can be pretty serious and the sooner they are treated, the better.


These are pretty serious skin cancers, and while they only make up about 2% of skin cancer diagnoses in Australia, they cause about three quarters of skin cancer deaths. Melanomas can be pretty aggressive and can grow quickly, over weeks to months.  They can appear as a new spot, or an existing spot that changes in colour, size or shape.  And not just in places where you have had sun exposure, but anywhere on your body including the soles of your feet or under your fingernails.  They are no joke so if you see something new or different, don’t muck about and get it checked out by your doctor as soon as possible.

Skin cancer comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes, some more aggressive than others. But cancer is cancer, so the best trick is to avoid it through good sun protection when working outdoors.  And even though they are all different, one thing they all have in common is that the sooner they are treated, the better the treatment outcome.  So if you see something new, changing, suspicious or just weird on your body, don’t drag your heels and get yourself down to your doctor to have it checked it.