Skin Cancer

Complex Skin cancer surgeries

Skin Cancer Surgery Melbourne

If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer, Associate Professor Dean White can certainly help you.

Skin cancers are very common in Australia because of our exposure to sunlight and UV radiation over a long period of time, our outdoor lifestyles and our (often) fairer complexions.

It is important to realise that the diagnosis of “cancer” applies to a very wide spectrum of diseases in all parts of the body. They are not all the same. For example, bowel or breast cancer is different to skin cancer. The majority of skin cancers are entirely curable with early detection and treatment. 

Skin Cancer Surgery Melbourne

The following video resource has been created by Associate Professor Dean White to assist his patients in better understanding Skin Cancer and Treatment Options which may include Surgery.

Skin Cancer Lesions

These are technically not cancerous. They may include simple moles (naevi), skin tags or lumps. They may be treated because of cosmetic concerns or because either you or a doctor is concerned about them being one of the more serious lesions.

Early changes of skin cancer are present. Examples include SCC-in-situ (Bowen’s disease) and solar keratosis. Often treatment is recommended to prevent these lesions from developing further to become malignant skin cancers.
Encompasses a broad range of skin cancers which have a wide spectrum of prognoses.
The most common skin cancer in Australia, often found on the face. It rarely, if ever, spreads to lymph nodes or other organs. Generally, if treated early and completely, these do not return. If not treated, these lesions will continue to grow and burrow. After successful treatment the initial skin cancer is unlikely to recur but there is a significant rate of developing further lesions because of the previous prolonged exposure to sunlight.
Often found on the ears, backs of hands and limbs. As SCCs get bigger there is more of a chance of spreading to other body areas (metastasising) e.g. Lymph nodes.
Melanoma skin cancers can be found all over the body. Its prognosis is strongly dependent on how thick the lesion is, which in turn is often related to how long it has been present/growing. Melanoma has the highest rate of spread, but the thinner types still have a good prognosis if treated early.
There are a large number of rarer skin cancers which also occur.

Treatment Types


A skin cancer lesion can be surgically cut out leaving a ‘defect’ which may be repaired using one of the surgical techniques described below. The lesion is then sent to pathology, which will enable the clinical diagnosis of the type of skin cancer to be confirmed and also confirms whether all of the skin cancer has been removed. The pathology results are discussed with you at your appointment with A/Prof White following surgery.

The final wound may be longer than you initially expect. The objective is to clear the cancer and get the best possible outcome. Somewhat counter-intuitively, a longer wound may get a better cosmetic result in many cases.

Depending on the size and site of the lesion, surgery can be done under local anaesthesia, with or without sedation or may require a general anaesthetic. 

Surgery can involve several options including:

Alternatives to Surgery


These may be suitable for some skin lesions/cancers.


Can be used as a treatment in its own right or in combination with surgery.

Following Surgery

At the first postoperative visit, your wound will be checked, sutures removed if necessary and the pathology results discussed with you. A copy of these results will be provided for you (A/Prof White’s rooms will send a separate copy back to your referring doctor). You will also receive information that outlines what you will need to do to look after your wound to maximise the clinical and cosmetic outcomes.

Follow Up/Further Prevention

No matter what type of skin cancer you have had, it is very important to have a plan in place for follow up – both of the cancer you have had treated and detection of new lesions.

This involves regular skin cancer checks, which entail a full body skin check, mole mapping and mole checking by yourself in conjunction with your doctors to reduce your risk of further skin cancers. If you notice any changes in your skin, or lumps appearing in your lymph nodes (glands), such as in your neck, armpits or groin, please let your doctors know. 

Depending on the type of lesion you have, follow up may be with your local doctor, a dermatologist, a skin cancer clinic, or plastic surgeon A/Prof Dean White. It is never too late to start applying good prevention measures such as sunscreens, hats, sunglasses and minimising exposure to sunlight when the sun is strongest in the middle part of the day.

Melanoma removal

Dean White’s Skin Cancer Treatment

All surgical procedures carry risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner. If you have been diagnosed with skin cancer, Associate Professor Dean White can help you with the next steps. Arrange a consultation with A/Prof White:

Skin Cancer Resources

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