Skin cancer is the most common cancer affecting New Zealanders.
Skin cancers are classified into two groups – melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. Melanoma is the most serious skin cancer, and the cause of the majority of skin cancer deaths. To put it into perspective, about as many New Zealanders die each year from melanoma skin cancers as die on our roads. Skin cancer is just as preventable as road deaths, if not more so.
Skin cancers are primarily caused by too much exposure to UV radiation from either the sun or UV light, such as from sunbeds.
Melanoma skin cancers
This is the most serious skin cancer. If left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body.
- Melanomas appear as a new spot, or an existing spot, freckle or mole that changes colour, size or shape.
- They may be itchy or bleed.
- Melanomas can appear anywhere on the body, even on parts that aren’t usually exposed to the sun, such as the soles your feet.
Non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC)
There are two types of NMSCs – basal cell carcinomas (BCC) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCC).
BCC's appear as a pale red or pearly smooth lump, usually on the face or neck.
SCCs often appear as a raised, crusty, non-healing sore. They are commonly found on the hands, forearms, ears, face or neck. SCCs found on the lips and ears have a high risk of spreading. Go to your doctor immediately if you believe you have a SCC in those places.