Skin cancer occurs when the genetic material inside the cells changes, and in doing so, causes an alteration of how the cells behave. They increase in size and number, leading to the development of a tumour.
There are two main types of skin cancer, melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and accounts for almost 3% of all newly diagnosed cancers each year. With the hot Brisbane sun we are susceptible to an increased risk of skin cancers. Melanoma (also known as malignant melanoma) is a cancer that develops from cells called melanocytes, which are found in the outer layer of our skin. Melanocytes produce melanin, a pigment that helps protect the deeper layers of our skin from the harmful effects of the sun. This pigment appears as a suntan, which is a sign of damaged skin and a possible skin cancer warning sign. Melanomas often start in moles, but they can also develop elsewhere on the skin. In rare cases, melanomas can occur in the eye, under the fingernails or in other parts of the body not usually exposed to the sun.
Those who have a higher risk of developing melanoma usually have one or more of the following factors: a history of childhood sunburn, prolonged exposure to UV rays, fair skin, outdoor-related work and hobbies, multiple atypical moles, previous history of skin cancer or melanoma, a family history of skin cancer or melanoma or a history of immunosuppression