The types and names of skin cancers are linked to where skin cancer arises — particularly, in which skin cells. The epidermis, or top layer of your skin, is where the majority of skin cancers begin. The epidermis is made up of three types of cells that can develop cancer:

  • Squamous cells are flat cells in the epidermis’s outer layer. They shed regularly as new cells form. Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that can develop from these cells.
  • Basal cells are found beneath the squamous cells. They proliferate and multiply, gradually flatten and move up to the epidermis to become new squamous cells as they replace dead squamous cells that have sloughed off. Basal cell carcinoma is a type of skin cancer that develops in the basal cells.
  • Melanocytes are the cells that produce melanin, the brown pigment that gives skin its color and protects it from the sun’s harmful UV radiation. Melanoma is the skin cancer that develops in melanocytes.

Types Of Skin Cancer

Skin cancers may be divided into melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are non-melanoma skin cancers.

  • Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

    This is the most common type of skin cancer worldwide. Though it occurs more frequently in those with light-colored skin, this can also affect people who have a dark skin color.

  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

    This is the second most frequent type. People with darker skin are more prone to develop this type on parts of the body that are rarely exposed to sunlight.

  • Melanoma

    Melanoma is known as “the most serious skin cancer” since it can spread to other parts of the body or metastasize.

Risk Factors For Developing Skin Cancer

Anyone can develop skin cancer. However, you’re at increased risk if you:

  • Get exposed to the sun frequently
  • Get easily sunburned or have a history of sunburns
  • Use tanning beds
  • Have light-colored eyes, blond or red hair, or fair or freckled skin
  • Have many moles
  • Have a family history of skin cancer
  • Have actinic keratosis (precancerous skin patches that are pink-to-brown in color, rough, and scaly).
  • Have been exposed to UV therapy for treating skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis.

Notice an abnormal growth on your skin?

You may have developed skin cancer. Consult our MOH-accredited dermatologist today for a detailed evaluation and accurate diagnosis of your skin condition.

Treatment Of Skin Cancer

Treatment options for skin cancer and precancerous skin lesions or actinic keratoses will vary depending on their size, nature, depth, and location. Small skin cancers that are confined to the skin’s surface may not require therapy beyond a skin biopsy that can already eliminate the entire tumor.

If additional treatment is required, the following options may be considered:

  • Cryosurgery

    Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze actinic keratoses. When the frozen tissue thaws, it sloughs off.

  • Surgical excision

    This form of treatment could be used for any type of skin cancer. Cancerous tissue is excised as well as a border of healthy skin around it.

  • Mohs procedure

    This method removes malignant cells layer by layer without removing too much healthy skin from the surrounding area.

  • Curettage and electrodesiccation or cryotherapy

    After removing the majority of the tumor, layers of cancer cells are scraped off and any residual cancer cells are destroyed with electricity or liquid nitrogen.

  • Radiation therapy

    High-powered energy beams such as X-rays are used to kill cancer cells when the cells cannot be entirely eliminated during surgery.

  • Chemotherapy

    Drugs are used in chemotherapy to kill cancer cells. Creams or lotions containing anti-cancer medication can be applied to the skin for cancers localized in the top layer of skin.

  • Photodynamic treatment (PDT)

    This treatment uses a combination of laser light and medications that make cancer cells sensitive to light to eliminate skin cancer cells.

  • Biological treatment

    Biological treatment helps your immune system to eliminate cancer cells.

Dr Noor Hanif Said

Medical Director & Consultant Dermatologist

Over 20 years of experience
in medical, Surgical & aesthetic Dermatology

  • Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS, Singapore)
  • Membership of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP, United Kingdom)
  • Fellow Of The Academy of Medicine, Singapore (FAMS, Dermatology)

Prior to starting his private practice at Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre, Dr Hanif was a dermatologist at the National Skin Centre and a Visiting Consultant with the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital Dermatology Service.

Apart from his expertise in the management of general dermatological problems such as eczema, psoriasis, hair loss and acne, he has special interests in pigmentary disorders and aesthetic dermatology.

Preventing Skin Cancer

Skin cancer can be avoided in the majority of cases. Avoiding excessive sunlight and sunburns is the greatest method to protect yourself. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays harm your skin, which can lead to skin cancer over time. Skin cancer prevention strategies include:

  • Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily

    Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher daily. Broad-spectrum sunscreens shield the skin from both UV-B and UV-A radiation.

  • Avoid certain antibiotics

    Some antibiotics such as tetracycline and fluoroquinolones, antidepressants like tricyclics, the antifungal agent griseofulvin, and cholesterol-lowering drugs can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.

  • Protect your eyes

    Wear sunglasses. Look for sunglasses that offer UV-B and UV-A protection.

  • Protect your arms and legs

    Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants. For further protection, look for clothing with a UV protection factor label.

  • Protect your face and ears

    Wear hats with wide brims.

  • Protect your lips

    Use a lip balm that contains sunscreen.

  • Avoid using tanning beds

    Instead of using tanning beds to achieve a tan, use a spray-on tanning product instead.

  • Avoid sun exposure

    Avoid being under the sun between 10 am and 4 pm.

  • Regular self-check of your skin

    Perform regular self-checks to identify changes in your skin over time. If you detect any irregular changes, make an appointment with your dermatologist immediately.

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Singapore 329563
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your journey to optimal skin health

Make An Enquiry

    your journey to optimal skin health

    Make An Enquiry

    Frequently Asked Questions

    When should I see a dermatologist?

    Make an appointment with your dermatologist as soon as you notice:

    • Any changes in your skin’s appearance, including changes in the size, shape, or color of existing moles or other skin lesions
    • A new growth on your skin
    • A wound that does not heal
    • Spots on your skin that are different from the rest
    • Any areas that itch or bleed
    What is the outlook for individuals diagnosed with skin cancer?

    Almost all skin cancers can be cured if they are treated before they spread. The sooner skin cancer is detected and removed, the greater your chances of complete recovery. About 90% of people with basal cell skin carcinoma are cured. It is also important to continue seeing a dermatologist to ensure that cancer does not recur.