What is facial cancer?

Facial cancers or Orofacial cancers are cancers of the mouth cavity or face. They are categorised in Skin cancer and its types. Facial cancer/ Skin cancer begins in the epidermis, which is made up of three kinds of cells:

  • Squamous cells: Thin, flat cells that form the top layer of the epidermis.
  • Basal cells: Round cells under the squamous cells.
  • Melanocytes: Cells that make melanin and are found in the lower part of the epidermis. Melanin is the pigment that gives skin its natural colour. When skin is exposed to the sun, melanocytes make more pigment and cause the skin to darken.

Signs and Symptoms

Areas of the Facial skin that are:

  • Raised, smooth, shiny, and look pearly.
  • Firm and look like a scar, and may be white, yellow, or waxy.
  • Raised, and red or reddish-brown.
  • Scaly, bleeding or crusty.


A first step is always a head and neck examination at doctor’s clinic that may include the use of mirrors and fiber optic scopes to examine hard-to-see areas.

The following procedures may be used:

  • Skin exam: A doctor or nurse checks the skin for bumps or spots that look abnormal in colour, size, shape, or texture.
  • Skin biopsy: All or part of the abnormal-looking growth is cut from the skin and viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer. There are four main types of skin biopsies:
  • Shave biopsy: A sterile razor blade is used to “shave-off” the abnormal-looking growth.
  • Punch biopsy: A special instrument called a punch or a trephine is used to remove a circle of tissue from the abnormal-looking growth.