Skin cancer is common in Australia. While in many ways we are fortunate to have such a consistently sunny climate, the sun’s ultraviolet rays are also a major cause for skin cancer, which can ultimately present a serious risk to one’s life and health if left untreated.
Skin cancer removal and treatment is a special focus here at The Layt Clinic and we offer a variety of advanced procedures designed to remove benign or malignant growths. Remember, early treatment of cancerous or potentially pre-cancerous areas of the skin can be a critical step to minimise the risk of further harm, as well as to reduce the extent of the effects that removal may have on the skin’s appearance.
What Are the Signs of Skin Cancer?
One of the most important things you can do to guard against the risks of skin cancer is to know the common signs of the condition. While there are several types of skin cancer (described below) and each has some distinctions in presentation, some of the general signs of possible skin cancer include: a growth on the skin that you hadn’t seen before; a mole that appears to be changing in size and/or color; a mole that itches; a mole that hurts and/or bleeds when touched; a red, scaly, flat patch on the skin; a small bump that is smooth to the touch. Even though these are common signs of a potentially cancerous growth on the skin, it is important to know that any kind of irregularity you notice in the way the skin looks or feels should be evaluated.
What Are the Major Types of Skin Cancer?
The three major types of skin cancer are:
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinomas are the least severe types of skin cancer and the most common. In general, a basal cell carcinoma does not spread from its point of origin and grows very slowly. Even so, this type of skin cancer does have the ability to invade deeper dermal tissue layers and bone, especially if it originates near the eye. While a basal cell carcinoma often presents as a “waxy” growth with a dent in the center and elevated borders, it can also appear as a white patch that looks like a scar, a crusty lump of tissue, a spot on the skin that looks red, scaly, or dry, or a sore that bleeds and never heals.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
A squamous cell carcinoma is a serious form of skin cancer. Left untreated, squamous cell carcinomas can be lethal. While this type of skin cancer typically appears in areas that are regularly exposed to the sun – such as the lips, ears, and other facial areas – a squamous cell carcinoma can affect any area of skin on the body. Signs of this condition may include skin that appears to have developed a wart or an open sore, and/or the development of a scaly, red patch on the skin that has irregularly-shaped borders. These areas of skin may bleed if you pick at them or bump them. A squamous cell carcinoma can metastasize to internal organs, lymph nodes, and other body areas.
A melanoma is the most aggressive and life-threatening form of skin cancer. Melanomas can develop on any area of the body. In many cases, melanomas look like moles on the skin. They often have irregular borders and an uneven color. A new growth on the skin or changes in the appearance or size of an existing mole could be signs of a melanoma. Melanomas must be immediately removed. This type of skin cancer can be highly malignant and rapidly spread to the lungs, liver, brain, bones, and other areas of the body.
While the various types of skin cancer can dramatically increase health risks, it is important to remember that these conditions can often be successfully treated if caught early. This is why it is crucial to do regular self-examinations in order to find any potential irregularities on your skin, including new growths or differences in growths that were already there. Whether a growth or abnormality has been on the skin for many years or if it is a new development, it should be evaluated as soon as possible to determine whether it is benign or potentially dangerous. Your GP can examine your skin with a dermatoscope and look closely at the areas of concern. Your GP can refer you to Dr Layt and Dr Trott for treatment.
What Are the Skin Cancer Treatment Options?
Our experienced team of doctors offers numerous options for the treatment of skin cancer. The best treatment will ultimately depend on each patient’s unique needs. For instance, a benign growth may require less invasive treatment – such as a cream or a laser therapy – than a pre-cancerous or cancerous growth. Skin cancer removal techniques at our practice include direct closure, flap repair, split skin graft (SSG), and full thickness graft (FTG) procedures. You can read more about each technique here. The goal of skin cancer removal is to extract as much of the cancerous tissue as possible to prevent it from spreading. The extent of removal will depend on each case; however, our doctors always strive to minimise the aesthetic damage as much as possible in order to reduce signs of scarring. When removing a skin cancer, the surgeon aims to achieve a clear margin around the lesion. In some cases, the cancer can infiltrate to the borders of the specimen excised and further surgery may be required in order to achieve the recommended clear margin.
Depending on the type and extent of the cancerous growth, many skin cancers can be removed in a day surgery procedure. Some may only require a local anaesthetic, while others may necessitate local anaesthetic with sedation or general anaesthesia.
Can Skin Cancer Be Prevented?
Skin cancer can be caused by a number of factors; however, it is often the result of prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Individuals can significantly reduce the risk of skin cancer by always protecting their skin from the sun. A sunscreen with a minimum SPF-level of 30 should be worn on all exposed areas of the skin when venturing outside. Wearing sunglasses and keeping most areas of the skin covered are also helpful prevention measures. It’s also a good idea to avoid tanning beds. Regular check-ups with a dermatologist and your general practitioner can provide you with routine screenings for any abnormalities, and it’s also important to perform self-evaluations often so that you can locate any irregularities that will need to be examined.
If you would like more information on our skin cancer removal treatments, or if you would like to speak to a member of our team, please don’t hesitate to contact The Layt Clinic.