What Is Skin Cancer? 

Did you know that skin cancer accounts for 50% of all cancers combined?

Research has shown that 90% of skin cancer is caused by exposure to the sun and affect more men than women. Research has also shown that people of all skin colours can be affected; however, light skinned individuals are at a higher risk of getting skin cancer.

Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of malignant cells (cancerous cells) on the skin. It originates when the cells that line up along the membrane that separates the superficial layer of skin from the deeper layers.

Types of Skin Cancer 

Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of malignant cells (cancerous cells) on the skin. It originates when the cells that line up along the membrane that separates the superficial layer of skin from the deeper layers.

  1. Basal cell carcinoma: This is the most common type of skin cancer and is mostly found in places exposed to the sun, like the arms, head and neck. In most cases this type of cancer is treatable, however when these tumours grow into the surrounding tissue without well-defined borders they can become difficult to treat.
  2. Squamous cell carcinoma: This causes 20% of skin cancers and is more common in immune suppressed individuals. The tumours are small but have a significant chance of spreading.
  3. Melanoma: This third type is not so common but is more likely to grow and spread than others. Most melanoma tumours are black or brown because most of the melanoma cells continue to produce melanin, but in cases where the melanin is not being produced the tumours appear white or pink. Melanomas most often form on parts of the body that have been exposed to the sun but can also form on the genitals, eyes and mouth.
  4. Merkel Cell Skin Cancer: Although this type of skin cancer is the least common, it is the most dangerous and is more likely to spread to other body parts when compared to the other types of skin cancer. The tumours appear in purple, red and pink colours. They are not painful but can at times open as ulcers or sores.

Symptoms of Skin Cancer

The skin cancer symptoms vary depending on the type of skin cancer one has:

Basal Carcinoma

  • Shiny pink or red translucent bumps
  • Raised reddish patches of skin which may be itchy at the centre
  • White or yellow waxy areas with undefined borders that look like scars
  • Pink skin growths or lesions with raised borders crusted in the centre

Squamous Carcinoma

  • A wart- like growth
  • Open sore that does not go away for weeks
  • Persistent Scaly patches with irregular borders that may bleed easily
  • A raised growth with a rough surface which is indented in the middle


  • A large brownish spot with darker speckles
  • A mole that changes in colour, size or feel or that bleeds
  • A small lesion with an irregular border and portions that appear red, white, blue or blue-black
  • Dark lesions on your palms, soles, fingertips or toes, or on the mucous membranes lining your mouth, nose, vagina or anus

Causes of Skin Cancer

Some of the known causes of skin cancer include:

  • Ultraviolet light exposure (commonly known as UV ray exposure) from the sun is the number one cause of skin cancer. That is why people are advised to use sun screen, especially in areas such as near the equator, with strong UV rays
  • Exposure to Ionizing Radiation (X- rays) and chemicals like arsenic
  • Some Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) such as genital warts
  • Chronically Suppressed Immune System (immunosuppression) from diseases like HIV/AIDS
  • Treatment such as Chemotherapy
  • Having a history of skin cancer can increase by 20%, the chance of one getting the disease.
  • Light-coloured skins are more susceptible to skin cancer making genetics an important factor.

Diagnosis of Skin Cancer

First, a doctor (general practitioner or dermatologist) examines the skin to determine whether any change to the skin are likely to be skin cancer. Secondly, if the doctor suspects skin cancer, the doctor removes a sample of suspicious skin for testing (skin biopsy).

Testing of the biopsy sample can determine whether you have skin cancer and, if so, what type of skin cancer you have.


Choosing a treatment option for skin cancer depends on the location of the tumour and its size.

There are several treatment options Set out below are just a few:

  • Destruction by Electrodessication and Curettage (EDC): In this treatment, the tumour is numbed with local anaesthetic and repeatedly scraped with a sharp curette. The edge of the tumour is then cauterised with an electric needle. This method is fast, easy and relatively cheap; however, it leaves unsightly scars and has a 15% chance of recurring.
  • Surgery: Skin cancer tumours can be removed surgically with a 90% chance of a cure, but the process is more complicated and expensive.
  • Mohs Microscopic Surgery: This is a more complicated and expensive type of surgery in which normal tissue preservation is vital.
  • Topical Medication: Some creams and gels are used to cause stimulation of the body’s immune system and, in turn, to cause it to produce interferon that attacks the cancer. These drugs can cause side effects in some people such as redness and inflammation.
  • Radiation Therapy: This procedure is used on people who have not gone through tumour removal surgery and it involves use of high energy beams being concentrated on the affected area. No cutting is done but this treatment is very expensive, and its scars look worse over time.
  • Cryosurgery: The cancerous tissues are destroyed by freezing.
  • Photodynamic Therapy: The use of chemicals, oxygen and blue light to destroy the cancer cells.

Prevention of Gall Bladder and Bile Duct Cancer

To prevent yourself from getting skin cancer or to reduce your risk factors, you should do the following:

  • Using Sunscreens to protect you from the sun.
  • Wearing protective clothing to cover your arms, legs, head and neck.
  • Wearing sunglasses.
  • Avoiding tanning and UV tanning beds.
  • Keeping new-borns out of the sun.
  • Doing self- examination of your skin.
  • Seeing a doctor or physician yearly for professional skin examination.
  • Staying in the shade especially during midday hours.
  • Being aware of sun- sensitive medications like antibiotics that can make your skin more sensitive.

Click the button below to find out more about skin cancer and treatment options from our partner hospitals around the world.


Treating skin cancer in its early stages is less costly and more likely to be successful.

How IMT can help

We, at International Medical Treatment (IMT), are experienced facilitators who can link you with some of the best dermatology cancer specialists in our partner hospitals in India, Dubai and Thailand.

We are here to help. By using IMT you will be assured of the following:

  • You will get a free, dedicated client coordinator who will help you coordinate with our partner hospitals to provide you, for free, with treatment plans and quotes to allow you to make an informed decision about which hospital and treatment is right for you.

  • All our partner hospitals are internationally accredited (JCI) and are the top hospitals in each country. We only work with the market leading hospitals.

  • If you arrange things through us you will never pay more than if you were to contact the hospitals directly.

  • No waiting times.

  • No hidden fees, no obligations- receive a free, dedicated coordinator from IMT to help coordinate and book your international medical treatment.

Find Out More

To find out more about IMT and the services available visit our website at www.intmedicaltreatment.com or call us today on +254 0740 409 727. You can also visit our office at The Mirage, 1st Floor, Tower 2, Chiromo, Westlands, Nairobi, Kenya.

Click the link below to fill out a short form with your information to get treatment options from specialists at our partner hospitals today.