Skin Cancer 2017-06-07T15:42:36+00:00

Skin Cancer

1 in 5 North Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime

Three skin cancers are most commonly detected:

What are the signs of skin cancer?

Look for new or changing skin lesions, monitor them and get them assessed by your family doctor if you are concerned.

Skin cancer refers to the abnormal, uncontrolled growth of skin cells. Risk factors include fair skin, family history of melanoma, being older than 40 years old, and regular sun exposure. You are also at risk if you are immunosuppressed or had an organ transplant.

Fortunately, skin cancer is almost always curable if detected and treated early.

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) – 80-85% of all skin cancers.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of cancer in humans but is very rarely a threat to life. It is a form of non-melanoma skin cancer.

Basal Cell Carcinoma often appears as non-healing red bump or pimple. It has a tendency to bleed.

BCC typically affects adults, particularly those with a fair complexion who have had a lot of sun exposure, or repeated episodes of sunburn. Although more common in the elderly, young sun-lovers often develop BCC in their early 40s, though they may appear at even younger ages.

Read More on Diagnosis and Treatments

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) – 10% of all skin cancers.

The majority of SCCs are due to exposure to ultraviolet radiation, which damages the DNA. They are particularly common in fair-skinned people.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of non-melanoma skin cancer. It is caused by squamous cells, the flat cells that make up the outside layers of the skin, also known as the epidermis. These cells are keratinising. This means they produce keratin, the protein that makes up skin, hair and nails.

Invasive SCC refers to cancer cells that have grown into the deeper layers of the skin, which is also called the dermis. Invasive SCC can, in rare cases, metastasize, or spread to other tissues. In these cases, if not caught and treated, there is the potential for SCCs to be fatal.


Malignant Melanoma – 5% of all skin cancers.

Malignant melanoma is a potentially serious type of skin cancer. It is caused by the uncontrolled growth of pigment cells, which are also called melanocytes and it appears as a spot on the skin that contains cancer cells.

Normal melanocytes are found in the basal layer (bottom part of the outer layer) of the skin. The melanocytes produce a protein called melanin, which protects the skin by absorbing ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Non-cancerous growth of melanocytes results in moles (properly called benign melanocytic naevi) and freckles (ephelides and lentigines). Cancerous growth of melanocytes results in melanoma. Even where the spot appears small, as with any cancer, the cells can grow and invade other cells and other parts of the body.


The ABCs of what to look for?

A – Asymmetry in the shape or color of a pigmented lesion

B – Irregular or jagged border

C – Variation in color, such as shades of brown, black, red or white

D – A diameter greater than 6mm (pencil eraser)

E – Evolution or a change in a lesion

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Read more

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)


Read more



Read more