Hidden Signs Of Skin Cancer You Might Miss


Patient Education

Hidden Signs Of Skin Cancer You Might Miss

Skin cancer is a prevalent and potentially dangerous condition that can develop on areas of the skin exposed to the sun, as well as on those typically shielded from sunlight. Understanding the various types of skin cancer is essential for early detection and successful treatment in Singapore. The three major types are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. While reducing exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is crucial in lowering the risk of skin cancer, regularly checking your skin for suspicious changes is equally important in detecting the disease at its earliest stages.

Types Of Skin Cancer

1. Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is a common type of skin cancer that originates in the basal cells, responsible for producing new skin cells. Typically appearing as a slightly transparent bump, basal cell carcinoma often occurs on sun-exposed areas such as the head and neck. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation from sunlight is considered a primary cause, making sun protection vital in preventing this type of skin cancer.

Symptoms of this kind of skin cancer include:

  • Pearly or waxy bumps
  • Flat scar-like lesions
  • Recurring bleeding or scabbing sores

2. Melanoma

Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer that develops in the cells responsible for producing melanin, the pigment that gives colour to the skin. While UV radiation exposure is a significant risk factor with research showing that 86% of such cancer cases are due to overexposure to UV radiation, melanoma can also occur in areas of the body not exposed to the sun. Early detection is crucial for successful treatment, as melanoma can spread rapidly.

Be vigilant for symptoms such as:

  • Large brownish spots with darker speckles
  • Moles that change colour, size, or feel
  • Tiny lesions with irregular borders and parts that appear red, pink, white, blue or blue-black
  • Painful and itchy lesions
  • Dark lesions on your palms, soles, fingertips or toes, or on mucous membranes lining your mouth, nose, vagina or anus

3. Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer

Nonmelanoma skin cancer encompasses various types of skin cancer excluding melanoma. The most common types include basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Treatment for nonmelanoma skin cancer typically involves surgical removal of the cancer cells.

4. Squamous Cell Carcinoma Of The Skin

Squamous cell carcinoma of the skin arises in the squamous cells of the middle and outer layers of the skin. While usually not life-threatening, untreated squamous cell carcinoma can lead to complications and even spread to other parts of the body. Prolonged UV radiation exposure is the primary cause, emphasising the importance of sun protection.

Keep an eye out for symptoms such as:

  • Firm, red nodules
  • Flat lesions with a scaly, crusted surface.

Skin Cancer Risk Factors

Several factors increase the risk of developing skin cancer, regardless of age. These include a family or personal history of skin cancer, fair or freckled skin, skin that burns easily, a history of sunburn or tanning bed use, outdoor occupations or lifestyles, and a high number of moles or irregular lesions. While skin cancer can occur at any age, the risk tends to increase as individuals grow older, with most cases appearing after the age of fifty.

Steps To Protect Yourself From Skin Cancer

Protecting yourself from skin cancer involves daily sun protection practices and regular skin checks. We strongly recommend scheduling a professional skin check annually, as trained specialists can identify potential concerns that may be overlooked. In between appointments, perform self-checks every three months to monitor for new or changing moles. If you notice any suspicious changes, visit a reputable skin cancer specialist in Singapore such as OncoCare promptly. Remember, regular skin checks can make a significant difference in detecting and treating cancerous moles.

Seeking Treatment For Skin Cancer

At OncoCare, we understand the challenges and concerns that come with skin cancer. Our team of experienced cancer specialists in Singapore is dedicated to providing personalised care tailored to your unique needs. If you or your family members are facing skin cancer, our comprehensive treatment options and compassionate approach can help guide you towards the best course of action. Don't hesitate to reach out to us for expert advice and support throughout your skin cancer journey.

Remember, being aware of the hidden signs of skin cancer and taking proactive steps can significantly impact early detection and successful treatment outcomes. By staying informed and prioritising your skin health, you can take control of your well-being and enjoy a fulfilling and sun-safe life.

“Expert knowledge means better care for cancer”

Written by:

Dr Kevin Tay

MBBS (Singapore)

ABIM Int. Med (USA)

ABIM Med Onc (USA)

FAMS (Medical Oncology)