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Skin Cancer Fact Sheet

Did you know :

  • Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world
  • WA has the second highest rate of skin cancer in the country
  • up to two thirds of Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer
  • most skin cancers can be cured if found early
  • more than 1400 people die from melanoma each year in Australia
  • melanoma is the most common skin cancer in people aged 15-39 years of age
  • over 400,000 Australians will be diagnosed with a non melanoma skin cancer each year


This is the most dangerous type of skin cancer and usually occurs in moles.


Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

More common than melanomas, but less aggressive


Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

The most common, but least aggressive type of skin cancer.

(SCC’s and BCC’s are collectively known as non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC))

What are the risk factors for developing skin cancer?

  • exposure to UV radiation (commonly associated with sun exposure and solariums)
  • multiple sun burns as a child
  • a child who grew up in Australia
  • if you or a primary relative have had a melanoma
  • many moles especially many irregular looking moles (dysplastic naevi)
  • a low immune system
  • fair skin that easily burns
  • blue eyes and red or blond hair


  • Minimise sun exposure (especially when the UV index is above 3)
  • Cover up with protective clothing, sun glasses and hats
  • Wear broad spectrum SPF 50+ sunscreens

Early Detection

The earlier that skin cancers are detected and treated, the better your chance of survival

Check your skin regularly

We recommend that you check your skin regularly. Things to look for:

  • a mole, freckle or spot that is different from others nearby
  • a new mole or freckle that has changed in size, shape, colour or pattern
  • a sore or spot that bleeds or does not heal