<img height="1" width="1" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=910941755778118&amp;ev=PageView &amp;noscript=1">

Have you ever observed new moles or skin growth on your body and should you be concerned? Anyone can develop skin cancers but some people are more prone to them than others.

Learn more about skin cancers and how to detect them early.

What are skin cancers? 

Skin cancers result from the abnormal growth of skin cells. There are two main categories of skin cancers - melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSCs). The two most common NMSCs are basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).

Anyone can develop skin cancers but some people are more prone to them than others. You might be at risk for skin cancers if you are fair-skinned, have many moles, have a history of excessive sun exposure or if you have family members with a history of skin cancers. 

What do the different skin cancers look like? 

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

This is the most common type of skin cancer and is the least aggressive form. Basal cell carcinomas appear as slowing-growing, pearly bumps that are usually red or pale in colour, that may occasionally ulcerate. They can affect any part of the body, but most commonly appear on sun-exposed areas, such as the face and neck. 

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

This commonly presents as a thick patch or a red growth that may become crusted or ulcerated. They may mimic eczema or may appear as a wound, hence a non-healing wound or patch of ‘eczema’ should be further evaluated to exclude this. SCCs also tend to occur on sun-exposed sites. They are more likely than BCCs to spread to other parts of the body and may be fatal. 


Melanomas are rarer compared to BCCs and SCCs. They are more deadly as these cancers have a greater propensity to spread to other parts of the body if not treated early. Melanomas may develop as a “new mole”, or evolve from an existing mole. Clinically, they can present as a pigmented growth with irregular edges and with variations in colour. They may have no symptoms, but some patients may complain of bleeding, itching, or pain. In the early stages, melanomas may look like regular moles to the naked eye, with telling features visible only when examined with a dermatoscope. Melanomas can occur anywhere on the skin but are most likely to present on the legs in females, and on the trunk in men. 

The ABCDE rule is a useful guide for the early detection of melanomas: 

  • A – Asymmetry: If a line was drawn through the mole, both sides do not look alike

  • B – Border irregularity: The edges of the mole are ragged or blurred 

  • C – Color: The mole is non-uniform in colour 

  • D – Diameter: Melanomas are usually (but not always!) greater than 6mm in size

  • E – Evolving: A mole that is changing in size, shape, or colour over a short period of time

How to prevent skin cancers? 

Regular surveillance and accurate detection are key to diagnosing melanomas early. Examine your skin regularly for new growths and also look out for changes in existing lesions. This can be done by systematically checking yourself from head to toe using a full-length mirror in a bright room. If you notice anything that concerns you, make an appointment to have it evaluated by a dermatologist.

Protecting yourself against the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays is key in the prevention of NMSCs. It is important to apply sunscreen every day, and this is most effective when applied 15 minutes prior to going outdoors. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours, especially when engaging in water activities or with heavy perspiration.

An ideal sunscreen should be broad-spectrum, conferring protection against both UVA and UVB, and have a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Use of protective gear, such as a broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses, long-sleeved tops, and long pants can provide additional protection against the sun’s harmful UV rays.

What is skin cancer screening? 

Skin cancer screening is performed in the clinic by a dermatologist. You would need to be undressed for the examination, which averages about 10-15 minutes in duration. Your doctor would examine you from head to toe including sites that might be hard for you to examine yourself,  which may include the scalp, genitals, and soles of the feet. The doctor may examine particular lesions more closely with a dermatoscope, which is a special magnifying device. Should there be any lesions that appear suspicious, your provider may recommend a skin biopsy. This is a simple surgical procedure in which the lesion is removed either partially or totally, and submitted to the laboratory for further analysis. 

Early detection saves lives. Skin examination by a dermatologist is vital to spot skin cancers early when the cure rate is highest. Make an appointment with your dermatologist today!


Featured Contributor:


DermAlly is a growing community dermatology practice that aspires to make specialist skincare accessible to all. Their clinics are located close to where home is, for the convenience of you and your loved ones.

Their background and training give them a unique understanding of community dermatology, alongside a wealth of experience from combined decades of handling the public patient load.

Dermally aims to partner with their communities in their skin healthcare journey.

Make an appointment here today.