Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers
The term non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) refers to all types of skin cancer apart from melanoma. NMSC is the most frequent malignancy among Caucasians and is related to ultraviolet radiation exposure. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) are the most common types of NMSC. A basal cell carcinoma can present as a red or pearly lump, and a squamous cell carcinoma often appears as a crusty, non-healing sore.
Early detection and treatment of NMSC is important to reduce morbidity. New or changing lesions should be examined, particularly if they are growing, bleeding, crusting, or tender. The appropriate treatment modality is selected based on the cancer subtype, location, and individual patient factors. This may include any combination of surgery, topical immune response modifiers, cryotherapy and photodynamic therapy.
Malignant melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer and can be fatal. Melanoma can arise from normal-appearing skin, or from within a pre-existing mole that changes in appearance. Early-stage melanoma is often curable with wide local excision, therefore prompt evaluation of any suspicious or changing lesion is important to prevent treatment delay.
Dermatologists recommend that broad spectrum sunscreen (UVA and UVB protection) with an SPF of 30 or higher be worn year round. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours, or immediately following swimming or heavy perspiration. In addition to sunscreen, patients should protect their skin with adequate clothing and protective eyewear.
Patients should routinely examine their moles at home. The “ABCDE” of melanoma is used to help patients identify concerning lesions that may need to be examined by a dermatologist.
A: Asymmetry: one half of the mole doesn’t match the other
B: Border: irregular or blurred border
C: Colour: the colour is not uniform throughout
D: Diameter: greater than 6mm
E: Evolution: the mole has changed