A mum has urged Aussies to stay up to date with their skin checks after what she thought was a pimple led to a harrowing diagnosis.

Kate Bourke, from Queensland, said she had noticed the unassuming spot appear on-and-off for two years but thought nothing of it.

It wasn’t until a separate health scare led her to get the pimple-like mark checked that Ms Bourke discovered she had squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).

The 34-year-old took to social media to urge Aussies to get their skin checked.

“I thought I would just remind everyone that something you may think is just a pimple may not be,” she wrote.

“Please get your skin checked before you regret it, and please see a skin cancer specialist not a GP.”

Alarmingly, multiple commenters said they weren’t aware such a seemingly harmless spot could be so sinister.

“Wow thank you for sharing this. I have one almost in this exact spot that looks identical and also comes and goes … I’ll definitely be getting it checked asap,” one person wrote.

“Thanks for sharing. I didn’t know it can look like that (which seems quite harmless). This is good to know,” added another.

SCC accounts for about 30 per cent of non-melanoma skin cancers, according to the Cancer Council. The other 30 per cent are basal cell carcinoma (BCC), which Ms Bourke also had removed from her face.

“If I hadn’t had the BCC on my nose removed previously, I would not have ever even considered the pimple on my cheek could have been skin cancer,” she told Yahoo.

Ms Bourke explained that, as a redhead, she tends to “burn very easily” and is very sun-safe.

“If I’m going to go do something outdoors like mow or go for a walk, I always put sunscreen on. I tend to avoid doing anything outdoors for very long because I know I’m going to burn,” she said.

It’s estimated that more than 1500 people have been diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer in Australia this year.

Their average age at diagnosis was 76 years old, but the cancer can affect people of all ages. While most non-melanoma skin cancers are not life-threatening, they can cause complications and so it is important to have them checked and treated.

Signs and symptoms of SCC:

  • Thickened red, scaly spot
  • Rapidly growing bump
  • Looks like a sore that has not healed
  • May be tender to touch

BCC, on the other hand, often has no symptoms and tends to grow more slowly without spreading to other parts of the body.

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