3 Common Forms of Skin Cancer a Dentist Should Be Aware of

Medically reviewed by Dr Gloria Kong, BDS, Queen’s University Belfast, U.K


Contrary to popular belief, a dermatologist may not be the first person to detect skin cancer. Instead, your dentist might play a major role in identifying the early stages of skin cancer.

Due to the nature and proximity of clinical examinations conducted by dentists, they have an opportunity to detect abnormal growths in your face and neck area, which are often subjected to skin lesions. When your dentist examines your oral health, they can visually detect any unusual skin growths, especially in your mouth area, which might signal oral cancer as well.

In Singapore, skin cancer is the 6th and 7th most common cancer for Singaporean males and females respectively.

Symptoms of Skin Cancer Dentists Should Watch Out for

Unlike other types of cancer, skin cancer is highly detectable in its early stages. A simple visual scan of your skin may likely indicate the possibility of skin cancer.

Here are 3 common forms of skin cancer and their symptoms that a dentist should be aware of:

1. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer. BCC develops in the basal cells, which are responsible for producing new skin cells as old ones die off.

BCC typically develops on skin frequently exposed to the sun, such as your face, head and neck. The growths usually do not heal naturally.

Common signs of BCC include:

  • A sunken or depressed pinkish or reddish growth
  • A scaly patch of skin on or near your ears
  • A flat, flesh-coloured scar-like mark on your skin
  • A lesion with dark spots with slightly raised borders

2. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

SCC is a more severe form of skin cancer that develops in the squamous cells. The outermost layer of your skin (epidermis) is composed of these squamous cells.

Similar to BCC, SCC occurs due to prolonged exposure to the sun and ultraviolet radiation. As such, signs usually appear on skin that is frequently exposed to the sun.

Common symptoms may include:

  • A firm and red nodule
  • A flat sore with a scaly crust on your skin
  • A red patch inside your mouth
  • A rough patch or open sore on your lip

3. Melanoma

Melanoma is the most severe form of skin cancer and can spread to other parts of your body. It can develop anywhere on your body, in an existing mole or as a new growth.

Common signs of melanoma may include:

    • Skin colour irregularities
    • Abnormal changes in size and appearance of your mole
    • Suspicious growths with uneven borders
    • Growth of an unusual, new mole that looks different from your other existing moles
    • Asymmetrical lesion

A Word From Kong Dental

While skin cancer may be pretty common, it can be prevented or even treated if it’s detected early. This is due to the apparent signs that may appear on your skin, which are vital and potential indicators for skin cancer.

As such, it is advisable to undergo skin cancer screening with a qualified Singapore dermatologist if you notice something out of the ordinary and make a mental note to visit your dentist regularly. They may be able to detect potential signals of skin cancer during your oral health checkup.

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