Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer

Non melanoma skin cancers are far more common but less dangerous than malignant melanoma and very rarely fatal.

Non-melanoma1Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC or rodent ulcer) is the most common form of skin cancer. Over 50,000 new cases are reported each year in the UK.

They are caused by long term exposure to sunlight and frequently occur on sun exposed skin such as the face, scalp, ears, hands, shoulders and back. People with a history of sunburn, recreational sun exposure, use of sunbeds, outdoor occupations and fair skin are most at risk.


What are the early warning signs?

  • BCCs may appear as an open sore that may crust or bleed but doesn’t heal.
  • BCCs can look like a scaly red patch on the skin which does not heal or fade.
  • BCCs can be a smooth red, pink, brown or flesh coloured lump that does not heal.
  • BCCs can be a flat scarred area in the skin that may be taut and shiny.

Seek medical advice for any new growths that do not heal within 4 to 6 weeks.

How are BCCs treated?

BCCs are removed by excision under local anaesthetic. Some may be suitable for removal by curettage and cautery, radiotherapy, cryotherapy, photodynamic therapy (PDT) or with prescribed creams.

If left untreated, BCCs will continue to grow.


Non-melanoma3Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

This type of skin cancer can grow quite quickly and occurs on parts of the body that are exposed to sunlight such as the face, ears, scalp, hands and legs. A squamous cell carcinoma usually appears as a scaly or crusty area of skin, with a red, inflamed base. It may look like an irritated wart, or break down to form a bleeding ulcer. They occur most often on the head, neck, ears, lips, back of the hands and forearms. This is the most frequent type of skin cancer in organ transplant patients.

How are SCCs treated?

SCCs are removed by excision under local anaesthetic. Some may also require radiotherapy. Some SCCs may spread (metastasise) to other parts of the body including the lymph nodes (glands).