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Ask Dr Stephanie Ho: Moles & Skin Cancer

Posted on 3 Aug 2018
Ask Dr Stephanie Ho: Moles & Skin Cancer undefined

Dr Stephanie Ho is a British trained Consultant Dermatologist who is registered as a skin specialist both in Singapore and the United Kingdom. She has over 18 years of medical experience, and has practised in Edinburgh, London, Hong Kong and Singapore. She seeks to offer personalised strategies for each individual patient, bridging the gap between traditional dermatology and beauty.

Dr Stephanie answered readers questions on: 

  • Causes of skin cancer
  • Types of skin cancer
  • How to tell if moles are cancerous
  • Treatment options for skin cancer in Singapore

Almost everyone has moles, and most of these moles are harmless. However, it's important to recognise changes in a mole, such as in its size, shape, or color. Some of these changes might be a sign of skin cancer. 

Why/how do we get moles?

skin cancer singapore

Hi Reely, most people will develop small brown moles that are harmless. They may be flat, dome shaped or bumpy looking. These moles usually will appear throughout their childhood, but some new moles may appear in adulthood or after pregnancy.

Most of the times, these moles appear due to our genetic predisposition. However, sun exposure can also trigger new moles.

READ MORE >

How do I determine when a mole is a cause for concern?

Hi Yuk Hwee, if you notice a changing mole, you should ALWAYS see a dermatologist who can assess your mole and determine if it is just a normal changing mole or if the mole is developing suspicious features.

While it is normal that some moles may become larger, darker or lighter over time in a harmless manner, it is still safer to leave such an assessment to a trained professional.  

READ MORE >

Do mole removal creams work?

Dear Peyna, it is difficult to give you a definite answer on whether such creams are effective because it ultimately depends on what are the ingredients present in the cream. In my opinion, the safest and most effective way to removal moles would be either by surgical or laser mole removal.

Surgical mole removal refers to removing the mole by cutting it out under local anaesthetic. Don't worry, it sounds a lot scarier than it really is! 

READ MORE >

Can pimples turn into moles?

Hi Francessca, in Asian skin, all pink pimples will heal leaving a brown mark known as post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. This is due to the higher melanin content in our skin being disturbed during the inflammatory process.

READ MORE > 

How to recognize skin cancer?

Hi Yang Wei, it's excellent that you are taking steps to examine your own skin. This is what I'd always recommend all my patients to do in between their annual skin checks with me.

The main abnormalities to look out for can be remembered as the ABCDE of abnormal moles:  

moles and skin cancer

READ MORE >

What are other symptoms of melanoma besides irregular moles?

Hi Malcolm, a melanoma may develop from a normal mole which then changes over time. A melanoma normally changes in shape, size and colour, sometimes slowly or sometimes very quickly.

If a mole becomes very black, bleeds or have irregular borders and different colours within, do speed-dial your dermatologist office for an appointment.

READ MORE >

What are the different types of skin cancer?

Hi Daphne, apart from the most dangerous melanoma, there are 2 other types of skin cancer.

skin cancer singapore

Skin cancer can be broadly divided into non-melanoma skin cancer or the more dangerous melanoma. Non-melanoma skin cancer includes basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).

READ MORE >

What are the risk factors for skin cancer?

Hi Jolin, during your skin check with your dermatologist, you will often be asked some questions and examined to assess your risk for development of skin cancers.

This may include:

  • Fair skin that burns easily
  • History of severe sunburns or sunbed use

READ MORE > 

Can skin cancer be prevented?

skin cancer prevention singapore

Hi Shan Shan, the most important step everyone can take to minimize their risk of skin cancer would be to take sun protection seriously. Wearing a hat, regular sunscreen, avoiding mid-day sun and never ever going under a sun bed would be a good start.

READ MORE >

How is skin cancer diagnosed in Singapore?

Hi Shanice, if your dermatologist finds an abnormal mole or growth that appears suspicious, then a simple test known as a biopsy needs to be done. It is a quick test that takes 5-10 minutes and a small skin sample is removed after a quick numbing injection. 1-2 stitches are usually applied to close the wound and this will heal in 1-2 weeks.

READ MORE >

What should I expect from melanoma treatment in Singapore?

melanoma skin cancer singapore

Hi Wei Chiang, sorry to hear that your father has been given such bad news. The next steps will depend on how deep the melanoma is.

For shallow melanomas, surgical removal with good margins may be adequate. For deeper melanomas, he will require surgical removal of the melanoma and referral to an oncologist for further staging. 

READ MORE >

What are the best treatment options for melanoma in Singapore?

Hi Peng Yuan, very sorry to hear that your mother has been diagnosed with melanoma. The treatment options should be discussed with you by your dermatologist. The next steps depend on how deep the melanoma is.

For shallow melanomas less than 0.8mm thick with no ulceration, surgical removal with good margins may be adequate. For deeper melanomas with ulceration, she will require surgical removal of the melanoma and referral to an oncologist for further staging.

READ MORE >

How much does treatments for melanoma cost in Singapore, and what affects the costs?

Hi Wei Chiang, in general, the cost depends on whether surgery or further treatment with immunotherapy or targeted therapy is needed. Whether a patient seeks treatment in the public or private sector also reflects a difference in cost, with the private sector often charging double or more of what the public rates might be. 

READ MORE >


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