Skin cancers are extremely common in Australia. The main risk factor for skin cancer is sun exposure. Sun damage occurs as both sun burns as well as through long term sun exposure.
Common skin cancers are Basal cell carcinomas and Squamous cell carcinomas. Melanoma is another very dangerous form of skin cancer.
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer. It usually appears as a pink or pale, raised or flat skin lesion, it may be ulcerated. Frequently it may also have a less obvious appearance. BCC’s are locally invasive but tend not to spread to other parts of the body.
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer. It also frequently appears as a pink raised skin lesion and it often has a crust on the surface, or it may be ulcerated. However, they often have a less obvious appearance. They may grow rapidly and tend to behave more aggressively. If not treated to early, they may eventually spread to other parts of the body.
Melanoma is less common than the other types of skin cancer. It usually appears as a brown skin lesion, which increases in size, may have some darker areas, or an irregular margin. It can start in a preexisting mole that changes in appearance, but more commonly it starts as a new skin lesion. Melanoma is an extremely dangerous type of skin cancer. It commonly spreads to other parts of the body. Early diagnosis and management increases the chances of successful treatment.
If you have any skin lesions of concern it is advised to see your local GP and have them refer you for further assessment. Dr Pyragius has extensive experience in the assessment and management of all skin cancers. Biopsies may be required to confirm the type of skin cancer.
There are some non-surgical treatment options for select early skin cancers. Some of these include Cryotherapy (liquid nitrogen), Efudex, Aldara and Solarase creams.
Surgery is the main treatment for most skin cancers. Small lesions are excised and the wound can frequently be directly closed. Larger lesions may require skin grafting or skin flaps to close the wound.
Dr Pyragius will develop a plan specific to your type of skin cancer. The objectives of treatment involve:
Dr Pyragius will discuss all of the details of your treatment at your consultation.
There are many treatment options available depending on the stage of melanoma.
The most common treatment for localised (early stage) melanoma is surgery, and in the majority of cases, this is the only treatment required.
More advanced cases of melanoma where cancer has spread to other parts of the body may require treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy or targeted molecular therapy.
Surgery is the most common treatment for melanoma, however its purpose varies depending on how far the cancer has progressed.
For early-stage melanoma, a biopsy may be all that’s required i.e. removal of the tumour by excising it. A wide local excision may also be required, where the skin surrounding the melanoma is removed to reduce the risk of recurrence of the melanoma at that site. This may be effective by preventing adjacent melanocytes from evolving into melanoma.
For later stage melanoma, surgery is used as a diagnostic tool to assess how far the cancer has spread. Patients may require more invasive surgery to remove lymph nodes.