Australians are amongst the highest sufferers of skin cancer in the world
Associate Professor Dean White seeks to treat and educate our Melbourne patients about the dangers of skin cancer. Today, several treatment techniques are available to those who suffer from this fairly common cancer. Skin cancer treatments vary because the word ‘cancer’ refers to a wide range of diseases that differ greatly. Luckily, skin cancer can be entirely curable if it is detected early enough. This is why it is essential that you have your skin checked by an experienced professional.
Associate Professor Dean White encourages all patients to perform regular skin surveillance with the help of their GP’s or dermatologists. You should notify them of any noticeable changes in the skin or lumps in the lymph nodes of your neck, armpits or groin. Always remember that preventing skin cancer in the first place is by far the best method of treatment and applying sunscreens, wearing hats and avoiding prolonged exposure to sunlight can all play a role in staying healthy.
Skin Cancer Lesions
Of the various types skin cancer lesions, the least dangerous is the benign lesion. This lesion technically is not cancerous in nature. These include moles, skin tags or lumps and can be treated as cosmetic concerns. Pre-cancerous lesions occur when the early changes of skin cancer are present, and treatment of these lesions is recommended to prevent them from becoming malignant skin cancers. Malignant lesions can refer to any number of skin cancers and similarly they have a broad spectrum of possible prognoses.
BCC, or basal cell carcinoma, is the most common skin cancer in Australia and is mostly found in the face. Very rarely will these spread to the lymph nodes or other organs in the body and if they are treated early enough will not reappear. However, if they are left untreated they will continue to grow and burrow. So, even though it is unlikely that they will recur after your initial successful treatment, there is a risk of developing further lesions because of prolonged exposure to sunlight.
Found mostly on the ears, back of the hands and limps, SCC’s or squamous cell carcinoma, are much larger and are more likely to spread to other areas of the body such as the lymph nodes. Melanomas occur all over the body and their prognoses are a highly dependent on the thickness of the lesions themselves. This thickness indicates how long it has been present. Of the various lesions, melanomas have the highest rate of spread but it is worth repeating that if they are treated early enough they can be contained and cured. Rare forms of skin cancer can also occur with varying degrees of menace.
How are Skin Cancers Treated?
A skin cancer lesion can be surgically removed, and the skin repaired using a surgical technique performed by Associate Professor Dean White. The lesion is sent to pathology, where it will be assessed and diagnosed to determine whether all of the skin cancer has been removed. The techniques employed by Mr White will depend on the nature of the lesion and the ‘defect’ that is left behind in the skin. This can be repaired by a direct closure (closing the wound at its edges) or by moving a portion of skin or tissue to fill the void of the defect and possibly a better cosmetic outcome.
Skin grafts can also be used to take skin from another area to fill the defect and may require heady dressing for about 5-7 days after. It may take a little while to take on its final cosmetic appearance. Associate Professor Dean White also offers non-surgical treatment for skin cancer including topical creams and radiation treatment, which can be used in its own right or as an accompaniment to surgery.
To find out more about skin cancer treatment from Associate Professor Dean White, or to make an appointment to have your skin assessed for lesions, please click here.