About Skin Cancer

One third of new cancer cases in Canada are skin cancer cases and they continue to rise.

There are three main types of skin cancer:

  • Basal Cell Carcinoma
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • Malignant Melanoma

Most skin cancers in Canada are either basal or squamous cell carcinomas. These skin cancers tend to develop later in life on areas of skin that have been exposed many times to the sun.

Basal and squamous cell carcinomas progress slowly and rarely cause death because they usually do not spread to other parts of the body.

Where to look for it on your body:

  • Head and face
  • Hands and Nails
  • Elbows, arms, and underarms
  • Neck, chest, and torso (trunk)
  • Back of neck, shoulders, upper arms, back, buttocks, and legs
  • Feet (including soles, heels, and nails)

What to look for: ABCDE warnings

  • Asymmetry. Do the two halves not match if you imagine drawing a line through the mole?
  • Borders. Are the edges uneven, scalloped or notched?
  • Colours. Are there many shades (brown, red, white, blue, or black)?
  • Diameter greater than 6mm. Is the mole the size of a pencil eraser or larger?
  • Evolution. Has there been a change in size, shape, color, or height? Has a new symptom developed (like bleeding, itching, or crusting)?

It is important to consult a dermatologist. The Sooner the better!

Treatment Options

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Chemical peel
  • Drug therapy
Questions & Answers

Do you have a question about Skin Cancer? To get started, ask your family physician for a requisition form to book an appointment with Dr. Neel Malhotra and we look forward to seeing you at our clinic.

How Does Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation Cause Skin Cancer?

A part of ultraviolet rays called UVA, causes genetic damage to cells leading to photo-ageing and immune suppression. If the body is unable to repair this sun damage, the cells will begin to divide and grow aggressively and uncontrollably. This can eventually lead to a skin cancer tumour.

What Are the Advantages of A Skin Cancer Check?

A regular skin cancer check-up is the most effective way to discover skin cancers before they can develop or create complications. A skin cancer check-up will help you detect and treat pre-cancerous areas as early as possible to improve the chances of full recovery.

How to know if I need to get checked?

A regular check up once a year, is recommended. You can also observe the pigmentations and lesions on your skin, if the are increasing in size or changing shape then a Skin Cancer Check would be recommended.

How Can I Prevent Skin Cancer?

The best way to prevent skin cancer is to avoid too much sun and protect your skin from sunburn. The best ways to protect yourself are, (1) using a broad-spectrum with a high SPF sunscreen and reapplying it every 2 hours, (2) wearing sunglasses and hats when in sun, (3) using a lip balm with sunscreen, and (4) protecting your body wearing full sleeves whenever possible.

Is Immunotherapy an Option for me?

Immunotherapy drugs also known as checkpoint inhibitors, have been approved to treat certain types of melanomas and Merkel Cell Carcinoma. These drugs work by disrupting chemical signals that cancer cells send to help hide from the immune system.