Types of Skin Cancer

While skin cancers are grouped under a single umbrella there are in fact significant differences between the different types. It is useful to understand what these differences are to better recognise when it is time to go see your doctor for a skin check. If you find a suspicious looking lesion or mole on your skin contact Norton Skin Cancer Clinic, and have one of our expert skin cancer doctors examine your skin today.

There are three main types of skin cancer; Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Melanoma.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

The most common type of skin cancer in Australia is basal cell carcinoma, accounting for as many as three-quarters of the skin cancer cases diagnosed in our clinic. While common it is normally slow-growing and rarely spreads to other organs in the body, making it the least dangerous skin cancer on this list. On the other hand, basal cell carcinoma can do significant damage to surrounding tissues, which makes early diagnosis and treatment essential for full recovery.

The main cause of basal cell carcinoma is repeated exposure to the sun, and is most likely to affect people with fair skin, eyes and hair, those that have a family history of the disease or those who have been exposed to repeated sunburns.

Basal cell carcinoma can present itself in a number of different ways, including as a pearly lump, scaly pink growth, open sore, reddish patch or spot with an elevated border and central indentation.

Norton Skin Cancer Clinic offers both surgical and non-surgical treatment options for basal cell carcinoma depending on the size and the form that the cancer takes.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer in Australia and arises from the squamous cells located near the surface of the skin. When diagnosed early this type of skin cancer is most often curable. If left untreated however it can overgrow and affect the surrounding tissue. While rare, in a small number of cases, the squamous cell carcinoma can spread to other organs and turn into a much more dangerous disease.

Much like basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma is most often caused by chronic exposure to the sun. Symptoms include scaly red patches, growths with elevated borders and central indentations, growths that look like warts, nodules and sores that won’t heal.

The difference between basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas can be difficult to recognise, which is why a professional clinic such as Norton Skin Cancer is vital to proper diagnosis and treatment.


Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer, causing over 1200 deaths a year in Australia. While rare in comparison to squamous and basal cell carcinomas it is the most likely to spread to other parts of the body.

Melanoma develops in the cells that produce the brown pigment called melanin that causes the skin to tan. The ABCDE rule helps identify melanoma growth, which includes moles with Asymmetrical shape, irregular Borders, irregular Colours, 6 millimetre Diameter and spots that are Evolving in some way.

It is very important that if you find a mole that presents any of these symptoms to get in touch with a doctor as soon as possible.

Get your skin checked today with Norton Skin Cancer in Leichhardt

If you find a suspicious looking spot or are just overdue for a skin check book an appointment with us today by calling 02 8459 0010.