Basal Cell

Squamous Cell

What does Skin Cancer look like?

Take a look at the images below. We have lots of information to help you learn: common skin cancers, how to best avoid skin cancer, how to identify potential cancerous moles and how to make better sunscreen purchases.

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

Low danger; slow to spread

Basal cell carcinomas are the most common type of skin cancer which usually occurs on the face or other sun exposed skin. BCCs often look like open sores, red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps, or scars and are usually caused by some level of sun exposure. BCCs occur in the deepest layer of the epidermis and tends to only spread across skin tissue and very rarely spread any further than the original tumour site, this makes BCCs easy to treat or remove in most cases.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Moderate danger

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer that develops in the squamous cells that make up the middle and outer layer of the skin. SCCs often look like scaly red patches, open sores, warts or elevated growths with a central depression; they may crust or bleed.. Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin is usually not life-threatening, though it can be aggressive and become disfiguring in some cases and need to be treated.



Melanoma is the most aggressive and life-threatening skin cancer. It develops in the cells that give the skin its colour (melanocytes) and has a very high tendency to mutate and spread to other parts of the body. The cure rates depend greatly on the stage of melanoma by the time of detection. The earlier it is detected the better the chances of being cured. Treatment for malignant melanoma can be as easy as excising the mole if it is detected early, however, further treatment options may be required depending on the type of melanoma being treated and severity of the case.


Moderate danger

Lentigo Maligna is an early form of melanoma in which the malignant cells are confined to the tissue of origin, the epidermis, hence it is often reported as ‘in situ’ melanoma. It occurs in sun damaged skin so is generally found on the face or neck, particularly the nose and cheek.

Common Precancerous Lesions

Aside from common Sun damaged skin, freckles, normal moles (naevus), and solar lentigo (which look like larger freckles), the following are moles which concern our patients.

Atypical / Dysplastic Moles

Usually safe but should be treated or removed

Atypia refers to a presence of one or more cellular or architectural features that deviate from that of an otherwise normal appearing cell or group of cells. Atypical moles are benign but can be a precursor to melanoma. People who have them are at increased risk of developing melanoma, which is why we recommend that these moles are biopsied and sent to the lab for testing as a precautionary measure.

Seborrhoeic / Seborrheic Keratosis

Almost always safe

A seborrhoeic keratosis is one of the most common non-cancerous skin growths in older adults. While it’s possible for one to appear on its own, multiple growths are more common. Seborrheic keratosis often appears on the face, chest, shoulders or back. It has a waxy, scaly, slightly elevated appearance. No treatment is necessary. If the seborrhoeic keratosis causes irritation, we can remove this easily for you.

Solar / Actinic Keratosis

Usually safe but should be treated or removed

Actinic keratoses usually affect older adults. Reducing sun exposure can help reduce risk. It is most common on the face, lips, ears, back of hands, forearms, scalp and neck. The rough, scaly skin patch enlarges slowly and usually causes no other signs or symptoms. A lesion may take years to develop. Because it can become cancerous, it’s usually removed as a precaution.


Almost always safe

Red moles, or cherry angiomas, are common skin growths that can develop on most areas of your body. These are normal and should not worry you, however we can remove them.

If you have any concerns come and see us