top of page
Man surfing on a wave


What are your most commonly asked questions about skin cancer?

We answer your  skin cancer questions.

  • What is the most common type of skin cancer?
    Non-melanoma skin cancers, which we now call keratinoctye cancers, are the most common skin cancers in Australia. In fact, they are the most common out of all types of cancers. These include basal call carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). BCC accounts for about 70% of keratinocyte skin cancers, while SCC accounts for the remaining 30%.
  • What is the most common body area to develop skin cancer?
    Melanoma can appear anywhere on the body. In men, it is most often on the face or the trunk. In women, melanoma most often develops on the lower legs. Keratinocyte (non-melanoma) skin cancers tend to develop most often on skin that's exposed to the sun.
  • Which is the most deadly type of skin cancer?
    Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer. However, melanoma is usually curable when detected and treated in its early stages.
  • How many Australians are diagnosed with skin cancer each year?
    Cancer Australia estimates that there was 16,878 Australians diagnosed with melanoma in 2021. It is more common in males. Of these cases, it is estimated that 1,315 people died from this disease.
  • What are the symptoms of melanoma?
    The first sign of melanoma is generally a change in an existing mole or the appearance of a new spot. Changes to a spot or mole may include: Shape - a mole may have an irregular shape, may increase in height or not be symmetrical (i.e. the shape is uneven) Colour - a mole may change in colour, have different colour shades or become blotchy Size - a mole may grow in size Elevation - the mole may develop a raised area, be itching or bleeding. See our Melanoma page in the main menu for more details. The ABCDE, ugly duckling or SCAN educational tools have been developed to help people recognise symptoms of melanoma. Each type of melanoma can appear differently. Talk with your doctor when you notice a change in your skin.
  • What are the symptoms of keratinocyte (non-melanoma) skin cancer?
    Basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) frequently show two or more of the following signs: - Shiny bump that is typically pearly, clear pink, red or white but can also be black or brown in dark-skinned people - Pink growth with a raised, rolled edges, central ulceration and surface blood vessels - Open sore that does not heal and may bleed - Scar-like area in which the skin looks shiny and taut, typically with poorly defined borders - Red irritated area Squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) may crust, bleed, and appear as: - A wart-like growth - A persistent, scaly red patch with irregular borders that may bleed easily - A sore that persists and doesn't heal - A raised growth with a rough surface Each type of keratinocyte skin cancer can appear differently. Talk with your doctor when you notice a change in your skin.
  • How is skin cancer diagnosed?
    If a spot or mole is suspicious a doctor will examine it during a clinical skin examination. This can be by a GP, dermatologist or specialised doctor at a skin cancer clinic. They may use a dermatoscope (magnified instrument) which is placed lightly against the skin to look closely at the mole or spot. If the doctor suspects skin cancer, a biopsy will be recommended. A biopsy will be sent to a laboratory, where it is examined under a microscope. You will then be provided with the pathology results, which will determine if it's skin cancer.
bottom of page