What is skin tumour?
Skin tumours can develop in any area of the skin but are usually on those exposed to sunlight.
Cells typically develop and divide to generate new cells when your body requires them or when cells become old and damaged. A tumour forms when cells continue to grow and divide more than is required.
Tumours can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
Common benign tumours include:
- Keratoacanthoma - a dome-shaped skin tumour occuring on sun-exposed areas (head, neck, and arms), often starts in a hair follicle
- Dermatofibroma - small reddish brown or brown oval bumps, usually found on the lower legs
- Wart - rough, skin-coloured bumps, commonly found on the hands
- Hemangioma - a bright red birthmark that appears in the first two weeks of life, it will fade over time
- Sebaceous Hyperplasia - yellowish or flesh-coloured bumps that form on the forehead and nose
- Mole - small, dark brown spots
- Seborrheic keratosis - a brown, black or light tan that looks waxy or scaly, usually appearing on the face, back, or chest
- Lipoma - a tissue growth that has an oval or circular form and appears beneath the skin, commonly appearing on the back, arms and neck
- Skin tag - skin-coloured tissue appearing as a small piece of hanging skin, mostly occurring on the skin folds such as the neck
Common malignant tumours include:
- Melanoma - may be a symptom of skin cancer if the mole changes dramatically in size, shape or colour. It can spread to other parts of the body if left untreated.
- Squamous cell carcinoma - may appear in multiple forms, including as open sores or red nodules with a rough surface
- Basal cell carcinoma - can take multiple forms but often appear as a skin-coloured bump
Some signs of malignant tumours can be recognised by following the ABCDE method:
- A - Asymmetry: irregular in shape and asymmetrical
- B - Border: have poorly defined and asymmetrical borders
- C - Colour: have more than one shade or colour
- D - Diameter: larger than 6mm in diameter
- E - Evolution: characteristics (size, shape and colour) change over time
Who is at risk of skin tumours?
Skin cancer can affect everyone, although individuals with certain characteristics are at a higher risk.
- Genetic history of skin tumours
- Sensitive skin that reddens, burns, or stings easily when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays
- Old age
- Excessive exposure to the sun
What can I do to reduce my risk of skin tumours?
UV exposure is usually linked to many cases of skin tumours, thus there are a few precautions that can be taken.
- Avoid excessive UV ray exposure (limiting time or seeking shade when outdoors)
- Avoid tanning or using a UV tanning bed
- Seek advice from a dermatologist on any abnormal spot, bump or mole on your skin
- Use of protective clothing such as hats, long-sleeved shirts and pants.
- Use sunscreen
How are skin tumours treated?
Skin tumours are mostly harmless and only require treatment if the patient experiences severe symptoms. Those dealing with benign skin tumours have several dermatological options including freezing (cryotherapy), curettage and electrodesiccation, and laser treatment. However, malignant tumours involve more intensive procedures like surgery or radiotherapy treatment.
Some of the treatments are:
- Cryosurgery or cryotherapy - The abnormal tissues are frozen and removed from the body by using liquid carbon dioxide or liquid nitrogen.
- Laser treatment - The abnormal cells are vaporised using a beam of laser light.
- Curettage and electrodesiccation - This treatment involves a numbing medication being injected into the area. The skin tumour is then removed with a curette (a scoop-shaped surgical instrument). Any remaining abnormal cells in the area are treated with an electrode (an electric needle).
- Surgical excision - Tumour tissue is surgically removed
- Radiotherapy - Radiation therapy (low-energy x-rays or electrons) is used to treat skin cancers
Our team of skilled dermatologists at SKINCENTRIC situated in Bukit Tinggi Medical Centre (BTMC) offers a variety of skin and aesthetic services designed to help patients achieve their desired goals and go on to lead a more fulfilling and healthy life.