“I never thought it would happen to me.”

When I asked women what went through their minds after hearing the words ‘it’s skin cancer‘, genuine shock was a common feeling.

It’s understandable. For some reason, skin cancer doesn’t always feel quite as serious as all the other cancers. While feeling our breasts for lumps and booking in pap smears, we put off penciling in skin checks by telling ourselves things like:

Only old people get skin cancer. When Dad got a skin cancer, he just cut it off. It’s no big deal. I never burn, I tan. The sun isn’t as harsh in Europe. My foundation has SPF in it, that’ll do. I don’t have any freckles.

The reality is, skin cancer can happen to you. In fact, Cancer Council statistics show two in three of us will have a type of skin cancer at some point in our lives. And while many skin cancers are treatable when caught early, melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, is the deadliest cancer in young Australians.

If no one in your life has had skin cancer, you might not know what you don’t know.

You need facts. And experiences from people who’ve been there.

That’s why we spoke to 10 women who have experienced different forms of skin cancer, and a dermatologist and skin cancer specialist to explain them in a way that’s easy to understand.

Types of skin cancer.

But first… what is skin cancer?

Sinclair Dermatology‘s Principal Dermatologist Professor Rod Sinclair explained skin cancers occur when skin cells are damaged by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. They fall into two main categories: non-melanoma and melanoma.

Broadly speaking, the majority of skin cancers diagnosed are either: Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC), Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) or Melanoma.

Let’s look at Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC), Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) and Melanoma. Image: Getty.

1. Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC).

  • SCCs develop in the squamous cells in the upper layer of the skin, are common on parts of the body that have the most incidental sun exposure (head, neck, hands, forearms and lower legs) and can grow and change quickly over weeks or months.
  • Symptoms of an SCC may include: A thickened red, scaly spot, a lump that has appeared and grown quickly, a spot that looks like a sore that hasn’t healed and/or is painful or tender to touch.

2. Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC).

  • BCCs are the most common type of skin cancer in Australia and they develop in the basal cells in the lowest layer of the skin.
  • BCCs are common on parts of the body that receive high levels of sun exposure (the areas that tend to get really burnt at the beach like the head, face, neck, shoulders and back) and grow slowly over time with little symptoms.
  • Symptoms of a BCC may include: A pearly lump, a scaly, dry area that is shiny, something that may look like a pimple and is pale or bright pink in colour.

3. Melanoma.

  • Melanoma is the third most common cancer diagnosed in Australia, and is particularly common in young people – it’s a life-threatening form of skin cancer because it can spread to other parts of the body via the lymph nodes (think of melanoma cells as spores).
  • They develop deep within the skin and can be caused by a history of unprotected sun exposure (sunburn and solarium use), and can appear all over the body and develop over a period of weeks to months.
  • There are different types and stages of melanoma – if caught early, melanoma is treatable. This becomes more difficult once the cancer has spread.
  • Symptoms of a melanoma may include: A new or existing spot, mole or freckle, a spot, mole or freckle that changes shape, colour or size and/or had a smudgy, irregular outline.

You can read more about different types of skin cancers on the Cancer Council Australia website.

Now, in partnership with not-for-profit melanoma education initiative Call Time on Melanoma, we hear from 10 Aussie women varying in ages and upbringings who know first hand what skin cancer really looks like.

Click on link to read full article https://www.mamamia.com.au/skin-cancer-pictures/

Authored by Amy Clark, Senior Lifestyle Writer, Mamamia