Skin cancer develops in the upper layers of the skin when unrepaired DNA damage causes the cells to mutate. It develops most often on areas of the skin that are more frequently exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, such as the face, hands, shoulders, ears, neck, and chest. We tend to divide skin cancer into melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC). The two most encountered types of non-melanoma skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
Like melanoma, non-melanoma skin cancers are usually caused by skin exposure to UV radiation from sunlight. Skin cancer affects more men than women and is more common as we age. A personal and family history of skin cancer, having a fair complexion, with a high proportion of moles or freckles or having a suppressed immune system, poses a higher risk of developing skin cancer.
Non-melanoma skin cancer usually presents as new growths on the skin or a change in an existing skin lesion. These changes can include slowly growing plaques or nodules, changing colours and size, and the appearance of crusting, bleeding, or ulceration.
If the skin cancer spreads along the nerves, you may experience itching, tingling, pain, or numbness.
A person with suspected skin cancer will usually see their general practitioner or other skin specialist for an initial appointment. A suspicious skin lesion will usually be excised or biopsied, and then a formal diagnosis is made by sending the tissue sample to the laboratory for histopathology. You may be referred to Dr Moar for further management if the lesion is large or in a cosmetically sensitive area.