The abnormal development of skin cells is known as skin cancer, usually from prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Skin cancer can also develop on parts of your skin that are not normally exposed to the sun. Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma are the three most common kinds of skin cancer.
In Singapore, skin cancer is the sixth most common cancer for males and the seventh most common cancer for females. Fortunately, majority of skin cancers are treatable.
The primary risk factor for skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, including sunlight and tanning beds. Other risk factors include:
A change in your skin is the most common sign of skin cancer. It could present as a new growth, a sore that doesn’t heal, or a change in appearance of your mole. Common symptoms of each type of skin cancer are:
If you have been booked for a skin cancer test with your dermatologist, here are some tips to help you get ready:
You will need to remove all of your clothes before the skin screening exam begins. You may be allowed to keep your underwear on depending on your risk of skin cancer and medical history.
Your dermatologist will examine your scalp, behind your ears, fingers, toes, buttocks, and genitals from head to toe. During the examination, you may feel self-conscious about remaining undressed, however, it is critical to have a thorough examination of your skin because skin cancer can develop anywhere on your body.
To examine particular marks, your provider may use a dermatoscope which is a special magnifying glass with light. The examination is completed within 10 -15 minutes.
One or more worrisome spots may be biopsied by your doctor. This usually entails removing a portion or removing the entire lesion and submitting it to a lab for testing. If the spot turns out to be skin cancer, your dermatologist will contact you to discuss the type of skin cancer and treatment options.
Skin self-exams are very important, especially if you are at higher risk of skin cancer. A good time to do a skin self-examination is before or after shower.
Here is a guideline on self-examination you can do before visiting your dermatologist:
Alternatively, there is a quick way to remember how and what to look out for:
ABCDE Rule for skin self-examination
Singapore has strong sunlight all year round, it is imperative to wear sunscreen with an SPF of 50 or higher, which blocks 97 percent of the sun’s UV rays. Higher number SPFs block slightly more of the sun’s UV rays, lowering your risk of skin cancer.
Skin cancer is highly treatable when detected early, and it is important to go for regular screenings especially if you are at risk. If you have symptoms or suspect you have skin cancer, you may visit us for further tests and skin examination.