Non-melanoma skin cancer
Non-melanoma skin cancer is a common type of skin cancer that arises in the upper
layers of the skin. Each year in the UK, more than 100,000 non-melanoma skin
cancers are diagnosed. This type of skin cancer is more common in men than
women and is more prevalent in the elderly. Unlike melanoma, which is more serious
and can spread to other parts of the body, non-melanoma skin cancer tends to grow
locally and can cause significant destruction of local tissue if left untreated.
There are two types of non-melanoma skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and
squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). This type of skin cancer arises in parts of the skin
that are regularly exposed to the sun. As a result, basal cell carcinoma, often called a
rodent ulcer, commonly occurs on the temple, forehead and nose and can present as a
lump or area of skin discolouration.
What causes skin cancer on the nose?
The main cause of non-melanoma skin cancer is exposure of the skin to ultraviolet
(UV) radiation. The main source of UV radiation is the sun, but it can also come from
artificial tanning sunbeds or sun lamps. Other causes of skin cancer of the nose
include pale skin, a large number of freckles, a previous diagnosis of non-melanoma
skin cancer, or either medication or a condition that suppresses your immune system.
Skin cancer of the nose: signs and symptoms
Although squamous cell carcinoma can arise as a skin cancer on the nose, basal cell
carcinoma is much more common. One of the first signs of skin cancer on the nose is
a raised area or lump on the skin, often with discolouration of the overlying skin, that
gradually increases in size over time. The appearance of a basal cell carcinoma is
often described as pearly white or red, with a nodular or waxy appearance. Sometimes
the skin over the lump may be reddened or flaky and, after a period of time, the skin
over the lump may ulcerate. If you have noticed a lump, skin discolouration or
ulceration on your nose, then please check with your GP to see whether you require
referral to a skin cancer specialist.
Diagnosing skin cancer of the nose
If you are aware of any of the signs or symptoms of non-melanoma skin cancer
described on this page, then you should check with your GP who can arrange referral
to a plastic surgeon or dermatologist who has a special interest in skin cancer. This
service is available in the NHS, although waiting times to be seen in a clinic can be
many weeks, or privately if you have medical insurance or want to pay for treatment.
If you have skin cancer on the nose, symptoms may include one or more of the
- A lump, that may be nodular or discoloured
- A lump that gradually increases in size
- A lump that is irregular in shape
- Skin that may be reddened, pearly white or waxy
- Skin that is flaky or ulcerated
- Skin that is inflamed or oozing
Although the majority of moles that present with these clinical signs will not be
cancerous, a small proportion will contain malignant cells and may require further
treatment following initial mole removal. If you have noticed any of the above
features, you should consider seeking medical advice to decide whether your skin
lesion on the nose should be removed or not.
If you are worried about possible skin cancer on your nose, but not sure whether you
require removal or not, one option is to book an appointment where the lesion on your
nose can be thoroughly examined by a specialist skin cancer nurse and images
can be taken for telemedicine reporting by consultant skin cancer specialists. You can then
be advised whether the lesion on your nose should be removed or not.
How will the lesion on my nose be assessed?
In order to confirm a diagnosis of skin cancer on the nose, an assessment by a skin cancer specialist, who can look for any of the suspicious features described on this page, is required. In addition, use of a special camera called a dermoscope can look into the
top layer of the skin to give further information about whether the mole should be
removed or not. A number of specialist skin cancer clinics now use telemedicine to
transfer the digital and dermoscopic images to an online system where experienced
consultant skin cancer specialists can report the images and advise whether a mole
should be removed or not.
Treating skin cancer of the nose
Surgery is the main treatment for skin cancers that are located on the nose, but other
treatment are available including cryotherapy and radiotherapy. Although the majority
of suspicious lesions on the nose will require complete removal for pathological
assessment, a number of techniques are available and are summarised as follows:
Complete excision surgery of skin cancer on nose
Most skin cancers on the nose can be removed under local anaesthesia, unless they are very large. While this type of surgery is often performed in the NHS by junior
surgeons, in the private sector these procedures are performed by consultant skin
cancer specialists, who are highly trained in cosmetic mole removal and can provide
the best scar and cosmetic outcome. This is extremely important for a location as
prominent as your nose.
Following removal, the biopsy results will usually be available within two weeks. If
any malignancy is found on laboratory analysis, your consultant will advise you if any
further surgery or treatment may be required.
Cryotherapy or freezing
Cryotherapy uses liquid Nitrogen to freeze moles or skin lesions so that they then
drop off without any surgery. This type of treatment is usually used if a patient is too
old or frail to undergo surgery under local anesthesia. This technique may leave a
small blister on the skin that will heal quickly.
Frequently asked questions
1. How common is skin cancer?
2. What are the risk factors for skin cancer?
3. Does non-melanoma skin cancer only affect older people?
4. What skin changes on my nose should I have checked?
5. How can I get referred for removal of the possible skin cancer on my nose?
6. How will my possible skin cancer on my nose be checked?
7. How will the potential skin cancer on my nose be removed?
8. When do I get my biopsy results?
9. What happens if the lump on my nose is diagnosed as a skin cancer?
Skin cancer of the nose: diagnosis & removal by SkinHealth UK
At SkinHealth UK, we only work with consultant skin cancer specialists who are plastic surgeons and are highly experienced in removal of skin cancers of the face and nose to give the best cosmetic outcome. Our consultants operate from a network of
clinics/hospitals in England & Scotland, so we can book you in to a clinic close to
your home or work address. SkinHealth UK currently provides this service for insured
and self-funding patients, and at the initial consultation you will be advised of the
various treatment options and costs. Our SkinHealth UK consultant surgeons are all
skin cancer specialists who can provide you with the best advice to manage the whole
process of having the lesion on your nose removed.
Your initial consultation fee with SkinHealth UK will cover an extended One Stop
‘see & treat’ appointment, with adequate time to allow private removal if required.
Additional fees will also be charged by the surgeon and hospital for any treatment
provided, including removal and laboratory analysis, and prices may vary depending
on the surgeon and hospital.
If you are worried that you might have a skin cancer on your nose, but not sure
whether you require private removal or not, we can arrange a SkinCheck appointment
where your skin lesion can be thoroughly examined by one of our specialist skin
cancer nurses and images can be taken for telemedicine reporting. Our consultant reporting
team can then advise you whether the mole requires removal or not. Call SkinHealth
UK on 0800 876 6662
to book your removal appointment or a SkinCheck