Continued from previous page.​

Dr Koh Hong Yi, ​Consultant, Dermatology Unit, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a memb​​​​​​er of the SingHealth group shares on treatment for skin cancer.

Skin cancer treatment

Treatment will vary depending on the type and extent of the skin cancer. Treatment options include:

Type of treatmentWhat it does​
Excision surgeryThis is the most common treatment for skin cancer. A skin graft may be required after a wide excision of skin.
Curettage and electrocauteryThe tumour is scraped off the healthy skin and the area is heated to destroy remaining cancer cells.
CryotherapyThe cancer cells are frozen off with liquid nitrogen.
LasersAn intense beam of light is used to destroy the cancerous growth with little damage to surrounding skin.
Radiation This is used in areas difficult to treat with surgery.
Topical chemotherapyA cream or liquid is applied directly to the tumour to kill the cancer cells.
Topical immunotherapyCreams are applied directly on the affected area of the skin to stimulate the immune system to attack the cance​​​r cells
Photodynamic therapyThis is a new form of treatment that combines oxygen, light energy and a photosensitizer to generate oxygen radicals that eliminate cancer cells.
Moh’s micrographic surgeryThe cancerous tissue is excised, mapped and examined under the microscope until a clear margin is obtained.

If the skin cancer spreads to other parts of the body, a combination of excision surgery, radiation and chemotherapy or immunotherapy may be used to treat it.

“Early detection and timely treatment of skin cancer can cure most non-melanoma skin cancers. However, the prognosis for thick melanoma with widespread metastasis is grave,” says Dr Koh Hong Yi,​ Consultant at SGH Dermatology Unit.

How to recognise a melanoma

This ABCDE rule can help you distinguish a melanoma growth from a benign mole. According to this rule, the five signs of melanoma are:

A = Asymmetry – the growth is uneven in shape
B = Border – the border or edges are irregular
C = Colour – haphazard combination of many c​olours
D = Diameter – over 6 mm​
E = Evolving – enlarging/changing shape of a pigmented growth

All skin cancer patients require regular follow-up after treatment to check for recurrence or spread of the cancer to other parts of the body.

“It is important to seek medical advice if you notice any suspicious-looking growth or a change in ​an existing growth on your skin,” says Dr Koh.​

​​Ref: S13