Skin Cancers

There are many types of skin tumours or skin growths. Some of them are harmless and need no treatment. These are called benign tumours. Some are cancerous and must be removed early. These are called malignant tumours. Any skin growth that is progressively enlarging or changing its appearance should be assessed and examined by a dermatologist.

Early detection and treatment is crucial as skin cancers can spread to other parts of the body. As chronic sun exposure is an important risk factor for most skin cancers, it is also important to practice sun prevention such as using proper sun protection and avoiding long hours of sun exposure.

Some examples of skin cancers are squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma presents as a fleshy lump usually on sun exposed skin. The growth can increase in size and may sometimes form an ulcer. This skin cancer usually occurs in elderly patients.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is a slow-growing, painless skin cancer. It may look like an ulcer with a raised margin, and commonly appears on the face. If untreated, the cancer can slowly destroy the surrounding skin and underlying structures such as muscle and bone.

Malignant Melanoma

Malignant melanoma is a skin cancer that often presents as a dark brown or black skin growth or ulcer. Sometimes, it may look like ordinary moles. Seek a dermatologist’s advice if a mole:

  • Grows rapidly in size
  • Has varying shades of colour
  • Has a thick and irregular surface
  • Starts bleeding
  • Shows other features of change over time

People born with large moles (known as giant congenital nevi) or have positive family histories of melanoma are at increased risk.