Most skin lumps and bumps are benign and non-cancerous. However, skin cancer is among the commonest form of cancers in the world. In general, there are 2 types of skin cancers: Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) and melanoma.

NMSC cancer refers to a group of cancers that slowly develop in the top layers of the skin. They are commoner and generally considered less dangerous than melanoma. They are curable in most cases.

 

The exact cause of NMSC is unknown although it has been linked to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light (sunlight, tanning beds, etc), radiation, gene aberrations, blonde hair, pale skin (does not tan easily), older age, family history, immunosuppressive medications, some chemicals like arsenic and previous personal history of skin cancer

 

NMSCs usually develop in the outermost layer of skin (epidermis) and are often named after the type of skin cell from which they develop. The two most common examples of non-melanoma skin cancer are:

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)

Also known as ‘rodent ulcer’ – starts in the cells lining the bottom of the epidermis and accounts for about 75% of skin cancers. it rarely spread to other body part but if left untreated may become bigger and more difficult to remove.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

Starts in the cells lining the top of the epidermis and accounts for about 20% of skin cancers. It has a potential to spread and most times require follow-up with your doctor and or a skin-cancer specialist nurse.

The early sign of non-melanoma skin cancer is usually the appearance of a lump or patch on the skin that does not heal after a few weeks.

 

My advice is that you should see your family doctor/GP in the first instance if you notice any skin wound that has not healed after four-six weeks. While most skin abnormalities are unlikely to be skin cancer, It is always better to be sure. Dr Salako provides mole and skin cancer screening using advanced (artificial intelligence) mole mapping technology. Please see the link www.skin-wise.co.uk for further information.

 

                     

Treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer is generally successful as, unlike most other types of cancer, there is a considerably lower risk that the cancer will spread to other parts of the body.

It is estimated that basal cell carcinoma will spread to other parts of the body in less than 0.5% of cases. The risk is slightly higher in cases of squamous cell carcinoma, which spreads to other parts of the body in about 4% of cases.

Treatment for basal cell carcinoma is completely successful in approximately 90% of cases. Between 70% and 90% of people with squamous cell carcinoma will be completely cured.

You can read more about skin cancer on the skin cancers and their cause by clicking

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cancer-of-the-skin/Pages/Causes.aspx

Treatments for non-melanoma skin cancer include surgery, cryotherapy, creams, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and a treatment known as photodynamic therapy (PDT).

Read more about treating non-melanoma skin cancer.

 

General advice

Reduce your chances of developing NMSC by:

  • Avoiding overexposure to UV light
  • Avoiding sunbeds and sunlamps
  • Using sunscreen
  • Dressing sensibly in the sun e.g. wearing hats, long sleeves and trousers.
  • Regular skin checks

Read more about preventing non-melanoma skin cancer.

Other common non-cancerous skin lumps and bumps include

Seborrheic keratosis

Seborrheic keratosis

Chondrodermatitis nodularis helicis

dermatofibroma, etc.

 

MELANOMA is a rare and serious type of skin cancer and it spreads to other organs in the body.

The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole, a change in an existing mole or a mole that is different from the rest. This can happen anywhere on the body.

Melanoma is relatively rare, but it is becoming more common. There are currently almost 13,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the UK.

Melanoma is one of the most common cancers in people aged 15-34 and is also responsible for most skin cancer deaths. More than 2,000 people die every year in the UK due to melanoma.

In most cases, melanomas have an irregular shape and more than one colour. They can sometimes be itchy or bleed and may also be raised and larger than normal moles. An ‘ABCDE checklist’ has been developed for people to tell the difference between a normal mole and a suspicious one.

Read more about the symptoms of melanoma.

Melanoma can develop from the part of the skin where some cells begin to grow abnormally. The reason for this abnormal growth is unknown, although it is thought that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from natural or artificial sources may be partly responsible.

A number of factors can increase your chances of developing melanoma, such as having:

  • Pale skin that burns easily
  • Red or blonde hair
  • Lots of moles or freckles
  • A family member who has had melanoma

Read more about the causes of melanoma.

My advice is that you should see your family doctor/GP in the first instance if you notice any changing mole. GP can often diagnose or suspect melanoma after an examination; they will usually refer you to a specialist in skin conditions (dermatologist). In most cases, a suspicious mole will be surgically removed and studied to see if it is cancerous.

Read more about diagnosing melanoma.

The main treatment for melanoma is surgery and if diagnosed and treated at an early stage, it is usually successful. However, you may need follow-up care to prevent melanoma recurring.

If melanoma isn’t diagnosed until an advanced stage, treatment is mainly used to slow the spread of the cancer and reduce symptoms. This usually involves medicines, such as chemotherapy.

Read more about treating melanoma.

You can reduce your chances of developing melanoma by avoiding overexposure to UV light.

You can help protect yourself from sun damage by using sunscreen and dressing sensibly in the sun, avoiding sunbeds and sunlamps and regularly checking your moles and freckles.

Read more about preventing melanoma.