Skin Cancer

Macmillan Cancer Support

The skin is divided into two main layers. Cancer can develop in the different types of cells that make up these layers.

There are three main types of skin cancer:

  • basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
  • squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
  • malignant melanoma.

Most skin cancers are caused by skin damage that happens from exposure to the sun. The damage can happen over a long period of time or from getting sunburnt.

People with a history of sunburn or overexposure to the sun in childhood also have a greater risk of developing both basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Because people are living longer, they are exposed to more sun over their lifetime.

At the hospital

The dermatologist will do the following:

  • Examine the affected area of skin. They may use an instrument called a dermascope, which looks like a magnifying glass with a light.
  • Ask you questions about how long you have had it and if you have noticed any changes.
  • Check the rest of your skin to see if there are any other unusual areas.

It is not always possible to tell the difference between skin cancers and benign (non-cancerous) conditions just by examining the skin. The doctors may advise you to have a sample of tissue taken (biopsy). This is a simple procedure which you can have in the outpatient department.

There are different types of treatments including 

  • Surgery
  • Cryotherapy
  • Photodynamic therapy (PDT)
  • Chemotherapy cream
  • Immunotherapy cream
  • Radiotherapy

For more, detailed information on all types of skin cancer - click here.

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