(08) 8449 2002

15 Semaphore Road
Semaphore, SA, 5019


What does skin cancer look like?

Skin cancer generally stands out as being different to surrounding skin. If a spot strikes you as being a bit odd, take it seriously – it is worth getting it checked out .

Skin cancer mostly appears as a new and unusual looking spot. It may also appear as an existing spot that has changed in colour, size or shape.

Here are some different types of skin cancers (some images kindly provided by the Skin & Cancer Foundation Victoria).

Skin cancer checks available with Dr Ron Louis – a member of The Skin Cancer College of Australasia. The Skin Cancer College Australasia is the peak body representing skin cancer practitioners in both Australia and New Zealand. Their goal is the development of health professionals who provide accessible, affordable, accurate skin cancer diagnosis and management


Melanoma can grow quickly. It can become life-threatening in as little as six weeks and if untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body. It can appear on skin not normally exposed to the sun.  

It is usually flat with an uneven smudgy outline, may be blotchy and more than one colour – brown, black, blue, red or grey.

Use the ABCD rule to look for melanoma where:

  • A= asymmetry, look for spots that are asymmetrical not round
  • B= border, look for spots with uneven borders
  • C= colour, look for spots with an unusual or uneven colour
  • D= diameter, look for spots that are larger than 7 mm

Nodular melanoma

Nodular melanoma

A highly dangerous form of melanoma that looks different from common melanomas – they are raised from the start and have an even colouring (often red or pink and some are brown or black). This type of melanoma grows very quickly and needs to be treated as soon as possible.

Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma

This is the most common but least dangerous form of skin cancer. It grows slowly, usually on the head, neck and upper torso. It may appear as a lump or dry, scaly area. It can be red, pale or pearly in colour. As it grows, it may ulcerate or appear like a sore that does not heal properly.

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma

This type of skin cancer is not as dangerous as melanoma but may spread to other parts of the body if not treated. It grows over some months and appears on skin most often exposed to the sun. It can be a thickened, red, scaly spot that may bleed easily, crust or ulcerate.

Warning signs of sun damaged skin and skin cancer risk

Spots, blemishes, freckles and moles, similar to those pictured above, are signs of sun-damaged skin. They are usually harmless, but if you notice them changing, see a doctor.  

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