Skin Cancer Treatment
Your first consultation at our clinic with our skin cancer doctors will involve a detailed medical history including any prior skin treatments or concerns you may have had.
A physical assessment is then undertaken of al high-risk skin cancer regions of the body, especially any areas that you may have a concern about.
For this assessment, it is important that you are not wearing any make-up or concealers that could potentially be hiding an early skin cancer.
Our doctor may assess any slightly concerning skin spots using a high magnification device called a dermatoscope.
Many skin cancers can be diagnosed during your first consultation by how it looks to the trained naked eye (or through the dermatoscope).
Occasionally a biopsy of a suspicious lesion will be required.
A biopsy involves taking a small sample of the lesion so that it can be sent to a specialist pathologist who will assess it under a microscope and determine what it is.
This is often able to be completed on the day of your consultation.
The area is numbed with local anaesthetic and a small (2-3mm) “punch biopsy” sample of skin is removed. This usually doesn’t require any stitches.
Often a decision is made to remove the entire lesion as an excision biopsy and this will require a formal excision and repair with stitches. If such a lesion proves to be a skin cancer, then depending on the type it may require further surgical excision.
Results for these biopsies are typically available one week later at which stage any further treatment can be planned.
If you have a skin lesion that is clinically consistent with (or highly suspicious as being) a skin cancer, or you have a biopsy proven skin cancer, then our doctor will be able to work out a management plan that is best for you.
There are two main interventional treatments for skin cancers, and these are usually able to be performed at our clinic under topical or local anaesthetic.
Using our state-of-the-art laser treatments, we can treat many benign sunspots as well as some very superficial or precancerous skin cancers. It is not used to treat melanoma skin cancers. Occasionally the lesion may need further treatment, a different treatment, or may require a biopsy.
Any skin cancer that is not suitable for less invasive management will require formal surgical excision. These are performed in or clinic under local anaesthetic.
The surgery in our clinic involves removing the entire visible skin cancer with a healthy margin of normal appearing skin to maximise the chance of complete removal of all microscopic (non-visible) skin cancer often hiding adjacent to the visible lesion.
The wounds are then carefully repaired using several layers of stitches. Often, for slightly more complex lesions a local “skin flap” or skin graft may be required to reconstruct the area.
However, any complex lesions or those in aesthetically sensitive areas may require a formal excision in a hospital setting by our plastic surgeon.
Often a skin cancer, dependent on its size and/or anatomical location, is not suitable to be surgically removed and simply stitched back together. Such lesions may require complex surgical techniques to reconstruct them and ensure an optimal aesthetic outcome, whilst at the same time not compromising the primary issue of cancer removal. For these complex cases our Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon can be called upon to manage.
A vital part of skin cancer management is the ongoing monitoring and surveillance required. This is necessary to assess for any recurrent disease, or the development of new cancers elsewhere. As the commonest cause of skin cancer is sun exposure, then unfortunately all the skin in the surrounding area of the recently managed skin cancer has been subjected to the same sun trauma and as such will need regular reviews. Prevention of further damage with the appropriate skin care, and the early detection and management of any future problems is the gold standard is skin care.