Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. It occurs when the body does not repair damage to the DNA inside skin cells, allowing the cells to divide and grow uncontrollably. Most cases of skin cancer are caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light produced by the sun. Skin cancer may appear as a dark spot, lesion, a wound that does not heal or a burn in the skin and the type of skin cancer depends on the cells that are damaged. There are three major types of skin cancer – basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma originate from skin cells, and melanoma originates from the pigment-producing skin cells (melanocytes).

Most basal and squamous cell cancers (as well as pre-cancers) are treated by dermatologists. Our specialist dermatologists have special training that includes the diagnosis and management of skin cancers and precancers (such as actinic keratosis). Based on the type and stage of the cancer and other factors, treatment options may include surgery, radiation therapy, systemic chemotherapy or other targeted therapy. The choice of therapy depends on the location and size of the tumor, and the general health of the patient.

It is important for you to discuss all your treatment options, including the possible side effects with your dermatologist to help make the best decision for your skin and overall health. If you suspect that you have skin cancer, contact Thomson Specialist Skin Centre today to set up your first appointment.

An actinic keratosis, also known as a solar keratosis, is a scaly patch on the skin that may be premalignant. It is more common in fair-skinned people, and is associated with those who are frequently exposed to the sun.