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Article: Volume 41 Number 7 Page 566 - September 2014

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  Dent Update 2014; 41: 566-575

Oral medicine:  Skin Cancer and Some Common Mimics of Skin Cancer

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Abstract: Skin cancer is the commonest malignancy in most European populations, and is highly treatable. The highest density of tumours is on the face, ears and – if the patient is bald – the scalp. There are two main varieties of skin cancer with very different consequences: melanoma is uncommon but has a significant case-fatality of ~20%, whereas keratinocyte tumours, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, are more common, but have a much better prognosis than melanoma. Diagnosis of skin cancer relies on clinical suspicion and the ability to distinguish the morphologies typical of cancer from the far larger number of benign mimics of skin cancer. Clinical suspicion is paramount in achieving early diagnosis.

Clinical relevance: Dentists, although their principal activities are confined to the mouth, should be in a position to recognize suspicious skin lesions on the face and other exposed surfaces.

Author notes: Jonathan L Rees, FMedSci, Professor and Grant Chair of Dermatology, University of Edinburgh and Lisa Naysmith, MRCP, Consultant Dermatological Surgeon, NHS Lothian and Hon Senior Lecturer, University of Edinburgh, Dermatology, Room 4.018, Lauriston Building, Lauriston Place, Edinburgh, EH3 9HA, UK.

Objective: To outline forms of cancer and their mimics.