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Cancer occurs when a change occurs in a cell and these abnormal cells grow out of control. These cancer cells can invade other parts of the body, causing damage, and evade the immune system.
Basic skin cancer facts:
There are three major types of skin cancers:
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
The first two skin cancers are the most common. A small, but significant, number of skin cancers are melanoma. Melanoma is a highly aggressive cancer that tends to spread to other parts of the body. These cancers may be fatal if not treated early. In fact, melanoma kills more young Australians aged 20-39 years than any other single cancer.
Most spots, freckles or moles on your skin are harmless – melanoma are not.
Melanoma is rare but the deadliest form of skin cancer. It affects the pigment cells of the skin, called melanocytes. It only needs to reach 1mm deep before it can spread around your body, causing damage.
Melanoma is caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or other sources (like sunbeds) in genetically predisposed individuals. However, melanoma does not always occur on areas of the body that have been exposed to the sun e.g. it can occur inside the mouth, in the eyes, etc.
Australia has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world.
Almost 14,000 Australians are expected to be diagnosed with melanoma in 2017.