Facial Skin cancer

Facial skin cancer

  • Overview
  • Causes
  • Diagnosis
  • Treatment


Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world. It is broadly divided into melanoma (which is aggressive and much more serious) and non-melanoma skin cancers. The latest refers to a group of cancers that slowly develop in the upper layers of the skin.

Non-melanoma skin cancer affects more men than women and is more common in the elderly. It usually appears as a lump or a nodule in sun exposed areas of the body. The face is predominantly affected


Overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is the main cause of non-melanoma skin cancer. UV light comes from the sun, as well as from artificial tanning sunbeds and sunlamps.

Other risk factors include:

  • Previous non-melanoma skin cancer
  • Family history of skin cancer
  • Pale skin that burns easily
  • Large number of moles or freckles
  • Immunosuppression

Types of non-melanoma skin cancers

  • Basal Cell Carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma


The clinical appearance of these lesions is most of the times enough to characterise them. Your doctor will refer you to the OMFS H&N Surgeon for any lesion that looks abnormal on your face. Direct inspection or use of dermoscopy (looking at the lesion with a special magnifying glass) is often enough to diagnose the lesion. Occasionally, a biopsy might be needed


Surgery is the main treatment for non-melanoma skin cancers. It involves removing the cancerous tumour and some of the surrounding skin.

Other treatments for non-melanoma skin cancer include freezing (cryotherapy), anti-cancer creams, radiotherapy, and a form of light treatment called photodynamic therapy (PDT).

The treatment used will depend on the type, size and location of the non-melanoma skin cancer you have. Because facial skin cancer is in a difficult area of the body, your treatment should be carried out by a surgeon experienced is excision and reconstruction of such lesions.