Q: I’m a 37-year-old Caucasian female living here for 10 years. I’ve been noticing strange red spots on my nose and temples. Could they be cancerous?

Not every red spot can be suspected as skin cancer; however, most non-melanocytic skin cancers do start as so-called ‘red spots’. You being Caucasian and living in an extremely sunny climate for several years can definitely make you more vulnerable for developing skin cancer.

[Spectacle marks on the nose: are they safe?]

You have not mentioned your family history of skin cancer, the nature of your job and the extent of your indulgence in outdoor sports and other activities involving sun exposures – factors that can play an important role in increasing susceptibility for developing skin cancer.

There are three major types of skin cancers – basal cell carcinoma (BCC), the commonest, followed by squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and malignant melanoma. BCCs and SCCs mostly start as atypical pinkish-red pimplish lesions or slightly raised, scaly skin plaques, mainly on the sun-exposed areas of the body.

On the other hand, majority of malignant melanomas develop within the existing moles on the sufferer’s body. In certain cases, a newly developed atypical mole can be a malignant melanoma from its very onset.

Your skin lesions could be BCC or SCC.

For an absolute conclusive diagnosis and further course of treatment, we need to perform a skin biopsy of some lesions.

However, the most commonly opted treatment is an extended deep surgical re-excision of the positively diagnosed biopsied lesion. These widely re-excised skin tissues are sent for a second histopathology report.

It’s important to mention here that the vast majority of such skin lesions, as have been found on your face, are usually non-cancerous in nature. Most of these lesions can clinically be diagnosed as actinic keratosis (AK), also known as solar keratosis. Most of these are benign and can easily be treated by topical treatments.

Other topical treatment options include use of medicated creams. The neck, upper chest, forearms and dorsal side of hands are among other most commonly affected areas with AK lesions. Certain lesions of actinic keratosis carry a higher risk of potential dysplastic changes in their cells, which can later transform into squamous cell carcinoma, if undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

Dr Ikramullah Al Nasir is a specialist dermatologist and medical director at Dermacare Dubai. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.