The Dermatology Practice.


Skin Cancers

Skin cancers are one of the top 10 most common cancers in Singapore (Singapore Cancer Registry 2004-2008). It can be caused by many factors including excessive sunlight exposure and a decrease in a person’s immune system. In recent times, there has been a rising trend in the incidence of skin cancers, likely from an increase in sun-seeking behaviour or activities, coupled with increasing life expectancies in our population. Often times, potential skin cancers may present early in its precancerous or in-situ form. An example of this is Actinic Keratosis.

Some common types of skin cancers include:

Basal Cell Carcinoma
This is the commonest form of skin cancer in human beings. It presents as a slow growing growth or ulcer on the skin. The aid of a dermatoscope may be helpful in diagnosing this condition in suspicious cases.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma
This presents as a firm irregular fleshy growth usually on sun exposed skin or on the legs. The growth can increase rapidly in size giving rise to a large lump which may sometimes break down to form an ulcer. If untreated, the cancer may spread to the surrounding lymph nodes.

Malignant Melanoma
This is a cancer arising from the melanocytes (pigment cells) of the skin. It is one of the most aggressive and potentially life-threatening skin cancers. It presents as a discoloured or pigmented spot that may display one or more of the following features:

Becomes Asymmetrical in shape
Its Borders become irregular
It displays more than 2 Colours within a single growth
There’s Discomfort (or soreness) on the spot
The spot rapidly Enlarges

Melanomas can occur on any part of the skin

Treatment For Skin Cancers

All skin cancers should be removed soonest. Precancerous lesions such as Actinic Keratosis can be treated with liquid nitrogen or creams. The confirmatory diagnostic test for skin cancers is a biopsy.

For established skin cancers, complete surgical excision is the treatment of choice. Clearance Margins on Histology with surgery ensures very high cure rates for most skin cancers.

Occasionally, non-surgical treatment options with special creams, cryotherapy or curettage may be considered. In cases of malignant melanoma, special blood tests, scans or other tests may be required for staging & treatment of the condition.