• Queensland is the Skin Cancer Capital of the World.
  • Melanoma is the single most common cause of cancer deaths in Queensland.
  • MoleScreen has state of the art diagnostic and monitoring equipment.
  • We were the first Skin Cancer Clinic in Brisbane and Queensland, established in 1997.
  • We only ever operate in the patients best interest.
Sub Header Image

Types of Skin cancer

Malignant Melanomas

Melanoma: Malignant Melanoma is a cancer of melanocytes, the cells which produce the pigment melanin that colors our skin, hair, and eyes. The majority of malignant melanomas are black or brown, but often they can also be skin-colored, pink, red, purple, blue or white. It has the potential to spread throughout the body and cause death.

melanoma - types of skin cancer

Melanoma

The Major Causes:

  1. Blistering sunburn: more significantly before 20th birthday. Intermittent burning causes a greater risk. Skin Type: As with all skin cancers, people with fairer skin (who often have lighter hair and eye colour as well).
  2. Family History: Heredity plays a major role in melanoma. About one in every 10 patients diagnosed with the disease has a family member with a history of melanoma. If your mother, father, siblings or children have had a malignant melanoma, you are in a melanoma-prone family. Each person with a first-degree relative diagnosed with melanoma has a 50 per cent greater chance of developing the disease than people who do not have a family history. If the cancer occurred in a grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew (second-degree relatives), there is still an increase in risk, although not as great.
  3. Personal History: Once you have had a malignant melanoma, you run an increased chance of another new one. People who have or had basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma are also at increased risk for developing melanoma.
  4. Compromised immune system: Often as the result of use of some drugs that are used to treat diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, chemotherapy, an organ transplant, excessive sun exposure, and diseases such as HIV/AIDS or lymphoma can increase your risk of melanoma.

Types of Malignant Melanoma

There are Four Basic Types of melanomas: Three of them begin in situ — meaning they occupy only the top layers of the skin — and sometimes become invasive; the fourth is invasive from the start. Invasive melanomas are more serious, as they have penetrated deeper into the skin and may have spread to other areas of the body.

  1. Superficial spreading melanoma is by far the most common type, accounting for about 70 per cent of all cases. This is the one most often seen in young people. As the name suggests, this melanoma grows along the top layer of the skin for a fairly long time before penetrating more deeply. The first sign is the appearance of a flat or slightly raised discoloured patch that has irregular borders and is somewhat asymmetrical in form. The colour varies, and you may see areas of tan, brown, black, red, blue or white. This type of melanoma can occur in a previously benign mole. The melanoma can be found almost anywhere on the body, but is most likely to occur on the trunk in men, the legs in women, and the upper back in both.
  2. Lentigo maligna is similar to the superficial spreading type, as it also remains close to the skin surface for quite a while, and usually appears as a flat or mildly elevated mottled tan, brown or dark brown discoloration. This type of in situ melanoma is found most often in the elderly, arising on chronically sun-exposed, damaged skin on the face, ears, arms and upper trunk. Lentigo maligna is the most common form of melanoma in Hawaii. When this cancer becomes invasive, it is referred to as lentigo maligna melanoma.
  3. Acral lentiginous melanoma also spreads superficially before penetrating more deeply. It is quite different from the others, though, as it usually appears as a black or brown discoloration under the nails or on the soles of the feet or palms of the hands. This type of melanoma is sometimes found on dark-skinned people, and can often advance more quickly than superficial spreading melanoma and lentigo maligna. It is the most common melanoma in African-Americans and Asians, and the least common among Caucasians.
  4. Nodular melanoma is usually invasive at the time it is first diagnosed. The malignancy is recognized when it becomes a bump. It is usually black, but occasionally is blue, grey, white, brown, tan, red or skin tone. The most frequent locations are the trunk, legs, and arms, mainly of elderly people, as well as the scalp in men. This is the most aggressive of the melanomas, and is found in 10 to 15 per cent of cases.

BCC

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC):

These cancers arise in the basal cells, which line the deepest layer of the epidermis (top skin layer). They are usually skin coloured, sometimes pink or red and occasionally pigmented and look like moles.

The Major Cause: Almost all basal cell carcinomas occur on parts of the body excessively exposed to the sun — especially the face, ears, neck, scalp, shoulders, and back. On rare occasions, however, tumours develop on unexposed areas. In a few cases, contact with arsenic, exposure to radiation, open sores that resist healing, chronic inflammatory skin conditions, and complications of burns, scars, infections, vaccinations, or even tattoos are contributing factors.

BCC

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC):

These cancers arise in the squamous cells that make up most of the skin’s upper layers (epidermis). Squamous cell carcinomas may occur on all areas of the body including the mucous membranes and genitals, but are most common in areas frequently exposed to the sun, such as the rim of the ear, lower lip, face, bald scalp, neck, hands, arms and legs. Often the skin in these areas reveals telltale signs of sun damage, such as wrinkling, changes in pigmentation, and loss of elasticity.

The Major Cause: Chronic exposure to sunlight causes most cases of squamous cell carcinoma. Frequent use of tanning beds also multiplies the risk of squamous cell carcinoma; people who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma than those who don’t. But skin injuries are another important source. The cancer can arise in burns, scars, ulcers, long-standing sores and sites previously exposed to X-rays or certain chemicals (such as arsenic and petroleum by-products). Chronic infections and skin inflammation can also give rise to squamous cell carcinoma. Furthermore, HIV and other immune deficiency diseases, chemotherapy, anti-rejection drugs used in organ transplantation, and even excessive sun exposure itself all weaken the immune system, making it harder to fight off disease and thus increasing the risk of squamous cell carcinoma and other skin cancers. Occasionally, squamous cell carcinomas arise spontaneously on what appears to be normal, healthy skin. Some researchers believe the tendency to develop these cancers can be inherited.

Pre-cancers, the First Step: Certain precancerous growths, or pre-cancers, most of them resulting from cumulative sun damage, can be associated with the later development of squamous cell carcinoma.

Actinic, or Solar, Keratoses: These rough, scaly, slightly raised growths, ranging in color from brown to red and from about 1 mm to 1 inch in diameter, are found on sun-exposed areas of the body, most often in older people. They can be the first step on the road to squamous cell carcinoma, and some experts even consider them the earliest form of squamous cell carcinoma. From two to ten percent of untreated actinic keratoses (AK) advance to squamous cell carcinoma, according to different studies. Indeed, 40 to 60 percent of squamous cell carcinomas begin as untreated actinic keratoses.

Actinic cheilitis: This form of actinic keratosis occurs most often on the lower lip, causing it to become dry, cracked, scaly and pale or white. Why the lower lip? Because it receives more sun exposure than the upper lip. If not treated promptly, actinic cheilitis can lead to squamous cell carcinoma on the lip.

Leukoplakia: Arising in the mucous membranes, these white patches on the tongue, gums, cheeks, or elsewhere inside the mouth have the potential to develop into squamous cell carcinoma. They may be caused by sources of chronic irritation, such as habitual alcohol consumption or tobacco use, or rough edges on teeth or dentures. They may even be caused by a long-time habit of biting the inside of the lip; however, leukoplakias on the lips are mainly caused by sun damage.

Bowen’s Disease: An early, noninvasive stage of squamous cell carcinoma. It appears as a persistent red-brown, scaly patch that may resemble psoriasis or eczema. If untreated, it may invade deeper structures. Bowen’s disease is most often caused by exposure to the sun or to arsenic, but others such as viral (Human Papillomavirus (HPV), chemical carcinogens, radiation, genetics and trauma also may play a role. The human Papillomavirus (HPV), highly transmissible through sexual contact, has been documented as a cause of one form of Bowen’s disease affecting the genitals.