What Are The Types of Skin Cancers?

    There are many types of skin cancer. The three common ones are;

    Squamous Cell Carcinoma

    This presents as a firm irregular fleshy growth usually on sun exposed skin. 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 glands. Squamous Cell Carcinoma usually appears in elderly patients. Chronic sun exposure is an important contributing factor in the development of this type of skin cancer.

    Basal Cell Carcinoma

    This is a slow growing painless skin cancer. The cancer often presents as an indolent ulcer with a shiny or translucent raised margin. The ulcer is often pigmented. This cancer commonly appears on the face.

    Malignant Melanoma

    This is a cancer of the pigment cells of the skin. It is a highly malignant skin cancer. It presents as dark brown or black skin growth or ulcer. It may look like ordinary moles. But unlike the common mole:-

    1. it grows rapidly
    2. its surface has several shades of red, black or blue colors
    3. its margin is irregular
    4. it tends to be large.
    5. it tends to be thick.

    Melanoma is uncommon among Asians. Melanoma commonly occurs on the fingers, toes and face.

    Treatment for skin cancers

    All skin cancers should be removed immediately. The cancerous tumors must be destroyed or removed surgically. Sometimes, a small piece of the tumor is removed (skin biopsy) first for examination to confirm if it is cancerous.

    What are the pre-malignant tumors ?

    Congenital moles

    These are moles that are present at birth. Such moles vary in sizes. They are usually present on the trunk. These congenital moles may develop into cancers (melanoma). Therefore, they should be removed whenever possible. The larger the congenital mole, the higher the risk of cancer developing later on. Congenital naevi may be associated with other malformations.

    Actinic keratosis

    These lesions are seen on the sun-exposed skin especially on the face, upper chest, back and forearms. They appear as scaly reddish or brown patches on the skin. Numerous lesions may occur at the same time. If left untreated, they can go on to develop into skin cancers.

    Treatment of Pre-malignant growths

    These can easily be destroyed using liquid nitrogen (like dry-ice) or anti-cancer ointments or electrosurgery or excision surgery or laser surgery. If you have a skin tumor, it is advisable to check it out with your doctor. He can then advise you on the diagnosis and action to be taken.