The signs of skin cancer
The images and descriptions below may help you identify the signs of skin cancer, and the signs of non-cancerous skin spots and other skin spots.
Learn more about:
- The signs of skin cancer
- The signs of non-cancerous skin spots
- Other skin spots
|Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
|Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
May develop into skin cancer
Some spots that appear on the skin are not cancerous.
Sunspots (actinic or solar keratoses)
Anyone can develop sunspots, but they occur more often in people over 40. They usually appear on skin that’s frequently exposed to the sun, such as the head, neck, hands, forearms and legs. Sunspots are a warning sign that the skin has had too much sun exposure, which can increase the risk of developing skin cancer.
People with many irregular moles (dysplastic naevi) have a greater risk of developing melanoma. The risk increases with the number of moles that a person has.
A mole (naevus) is a normal skin-growth that develops when melanocytes grow in groups. Moles are very common. Some people have many moles on their body – this can run in families. Overexposure to the sun, especially in childhood, can also increase the number of moles. People with large numbers of normal moles can have a higher risk of melanoma.
Prof Diona Damian, Dermatologist, The University of Sydney at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and Associate, Melanoma Institute of Australia, NSW; Dr Annie Ho, Radiation Oncologist, Genesis Care, Macquarie University, St Vincent’s and Mater Hospitals, NSW; Rebecca Johnson, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Melanoma Institute of Australia, NSW; Shannon Jones, SunSmart Health Professionals Coordinator, Cancer Council Victoria; Liz King, Skin Cancer Prevention Manager, Cancer Council NSW; Roslyn McCulloch, Consumer; Caitriona Nienaber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council WA; Paige Preston, Policy Advisor, Cancer Prevention, Health and Wellbeing, Cancer Council Queensland; Dr Michael Wagels, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, Princess Alexandra Hospital, QLD.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.