Diagnosing Skin Cancer

Where does my skin sample go?

After our surgical team removes your lesion, it is placed in a specimen container which has a formaldehyde solution inside to preserve the tissue and characteristics of the specimen. It is then sent off to Perth laboratories with the specimen goes through a series of processing to determine a diagnosis at peter hsiao. The specimen is cut into thin sections and stained with special dyes, following this the pathologist views the slides under a microscope who reports on his/her findings. These findings are then reported back to your doctor, usually taking 2-3 days, who will then discuss with you the diagnosis and any further treatment methods.

What do my results mean?

Solar Keratosis

  • Very Common
  • Pre cancerous lesion
  • Appears as reddened areas, scaling
  • May develop into a non-malignant skin cancer

Squamous Cell Carcinoma insitu (Bowen’s Disease)

  • Precursor to Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • Chance of regrowing if not completely excised

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

  • 30% of non-melanona skin cancers
  • Located in the upper layer of the epidermis
  • Grows quickly
  • Commonly appears in areas of high sun exposure.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

  • Most common type of skin cancer (70%) but least dangerous.
  • Commonly appears in areas of high sun exposure.
  • Can present as a pearly, shiny, pale lump.
  • Located in the lower layer of the epidermis

Dysplastic Naevus

  • Unusual looking mole
  • Can mimic Melanomas
  • May progress to Melanoma
  • May occur in families

Malignant Melanoma

  • Can occur anywhere on the body
  • Risk of spreading to lymph nodes
  • Can appear as a new spot
  • Can be an existing spot that has changed in size, shape and colour.
  • Most dangerous of Skin Cancers.


  • Rapidly growing lesion
  • Can also self resolve
  • Occurs in sun damaged areas
  • Similar characteristics to a Squamous Cell Carcinoma.

Ultimately there are three major types of Skin Cancer:

Basal Cell Carcinoma
Squamous Cell Carcinoma