Skin cancers do occur more commonly in some families, but rather than being genetic as such, it can be that these families all experienced more sunburns due to habitual exposure to the sun through sport or other outdoor activities. There are rare genetic mutations that can lead to a very high risk of skin cancer, including Gorlin’s syndrome, which can lead to a high risk of BCC formation. Melanoma appears to be genetic in a small proportion of patients, but there is no genetic testing available as yet to quantify your risk of melanoma. If you have a family history of skin cancer including melanoma, you may be at increased risk of skin cancer, and it may be worthwhile having annual skin checks, especially if you have risk factors for skin cancer yourself.
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer. It is derived from the basal or deepest layers of the epidermis (outer layer of skin).
PDT Light therapy (Photodynamic Therapy) is fast becoming a popular and effective treatment for pre-cancerous lesions and fields as well as some early cancers.
This therepy also has the added advantage of improving the look and feel of the skin.
A pre-treatment appointment should be completed 2-3 weeks prior to the light therapy treatment date.
Complete the form below and we will get back to you with the soonest available appointment.
A focus on cosmetic procedures is used in all applications in the clinic.
Diathermy and Curettage is a treatment using a semi sharp instrument to scrape out the cancerous tumour and uses diathermy to destroy a further margin of surrounding tissue and stop bleeding.
Ellipse excision is the simplest and commonest form of surgical treatment and involves cutting out a boat shaped section of skin containing the cancer, and then using sutures to bring the edges together.
Flap surgery is a plastic surgical technique which is used for treatment of skin cancers where a simple elipse would not suffice.
Sun damage at a young age is potentially the most dangerous, because the skin is thin and delicate and may burn more easily. It is also the time when sunburn is most likely to result in freckling and mole formation, which are both markers for people at risk of future skin cancers. In fact, a mole count over forearms is an indication of future melanoma risk, with high mole counts being associated with increased lifetime risk of melanoma. Children need to be protected from sun damage and in particular sun burn with hats, sunglasses, protective clothing (shirts, rash vests), high potency sunscreens (50+ SPF recommended) and avoidance sun exposure in the hottest part of the day. Every sunburn contributes to an increased risk of skin cancer in future and there may be a very long (decades) delay before the skin cancer appears. Skin cancers occurring after a single sunburn has been documented, with a delay of 40 years between the sunburn and the eventual cancer formation. Regular sunscreen application for skin types susceptible to sun burn can prevent accidental sunburns, and lead to a reduced risk of future skin cancers.
Most children are at very low risk of skin cancers, so regular skin checks are not routinely recommended unless there are particular concerns. While skin cancers including melanoma are rare, they do occur, so if there is a mole or spot that is changing or growing at an accelerated rate, or looks odd or different to every other mole on the child’s body, then they should be checked to ensure it is not a cancer.
There are a variety of wound care regimes used after surgery. Some areas are difficult to cover, and may be left without a dressing and the wound covered with antibiotic ointment. This may include scalps, eyelids and beard areas. Most wounds benefit from being covered because it can keep the area clean and help wick away any blood or fluid leaking from the wound. Our routine wound dressing involves application of antibiotic ointment, kaltostat (a dressing that reduces bleeding), then a protective dressing. This can be left intact until removal of suture time in 7 days if kept clean and dry. An ice pack or pressure dressing may be applied if necessary to reduce bleeding risk and protect the area.
Melanoma Scan - Skin Cancer Clinic
The healing time is different for the two different types of mole removal and the location, and also the reason for the excision. The healing time of a cosmetic mole removal on a face can be 7-10 days, during which there will be a scab form and then fall off as the skin heals up under the scab. A deep shave excision for testing for possible melanoma is a much deeper and wider shave excision and depending on the location on the body, can take between 2 and 4 weeks to heal. There can be a risk of infection on the lower leg with this technique (or any excision on the lower leg) due to poor immune function and blood supply on the lower leg, which can further delay healing.
Ellipse excision on the face takes 7 days to heal enough for sutures to be removed, and other parts of the body usually take between 7 and 14 days to heal to the point where sutures can be removed. However, this is only the early stage of healing, with deep sutures continuing to support the wound for the next 6 weeks until further strength has developed in the wound. During this time, sporting activities, lifting, carrying, bending and squatting need to be avoided depending on the location of the wound, and the wound needs to be supported with taping with micropore tape or similar. Wound can be as little as at 10% of their eventual strength at day 7 without supportive deep sutures, and can reach 80% of their eventual strength at 3 months, hence the need to continue taping for an extended period and limit physical exertion, especially on the area affected by the surgery.
Melanoma Scan - Skin Cancer Clinic
Large numbers of moles are associated with both a genetic predisposition to mole formation, and an increased sun exposure in childhood as a trigger for mole formation.
Moles in at risk individuals, tend to cluster in areas of previous sun exposure and sun damage, including areas that have been sunburnt in the past. In this way, large numbers of moles can act as a marker for people at increased risk of both melanoma and non melanoma skin cancer (such as BCC and SCC).
If you have large numbers of moles, particularly if you have odd looking or asymmetric appearing moles, then a regular (at least annual) skin check with an experienced skin cancer doctor is recommended because you may be at higher risk of melanoma, particularly with advancing age, although melanoma can occur in any age group.
Melanoma Scan - Skin Cancer Clinic
Some experts in skin cancer regard Keratoacanthoma (KA) as a subtype of SCC, but with the difference that they may eventually resolve without treatment if left alone.
Melanoma is a less common form of skin cancer but can be one of the deadliest. Melanoma can form on any part of the body but most often forms on sun exposed areas such as the arms, legs and face.
Not all moles are dangerous but sometimes the location can be annoying causing irritation. At Melanoma Scan we perform cosmetic mole removal with simple in-house surgical procedures.
Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) is a treatment based around the compound of two chemicals. Both chemicals specifically bind to premalignant or cancerous cells, and when activated by a bright light, form a reaction that kills the affected cells.
Skin cancer checks are an essential part of life for all people living in Queensland, a state with one of the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. A skin check may be something you do if you notice a spot which is changing or growing, or just looks different from everything else on your body. Or it could be something you do at regular intervals. Skin checks are recommended for all adults living in Australia, as part of normal care with your general practitioner.
Who should be checked?
An annual skin check (or more frequent checks) is recommended for adults if:
- you have a history of skin cancer or dysplastic naevus syndrome (abnormal mole)
- you have an extensive history of sun exposure.
- you have a family history of skin cancer or dysplastic naevus syndrome (abnormal moles)
- you have premalignant change on your skin (solar keratosis)
- you have a large number of moles on your skin
- your doctor has recommended a regular check.
What to watch out for
Skin cancers can be sometimes obvious but more often subtle changes in your skin. Any change in your skin can alert you to the risk of skin cancer but in particular it is important to watch out for:
- any change in a mole or pigmented spot on your skin
- any new pigmented spot on your skin, particularly if it changes after you first notice it.
- any persisting itch or irritation in a mole or other spot on your skin
- any persisting red scaley mark, particularly if it grows over time.
- any spot that bleeds easily, for instance, with towelling after bathing
- any new lump that arises, particularly if it grows after you first notice it.
If you have noticed any of these changes on your skin, you should present immediately to your general practitioner or skin cancer doctor for a check.
What can happen if I don't get a check?
The most important factor in skin cancer care is the prompt recognition of a skin cancer and it's early and complete removal. Melanoma in particular can be deadly if there is a delay in diagnosis. The chance of a person dying from melanoma is most closely related to the thickness of the melanoma at the time of initial diagnosis and any evidence of early spread. In most cases, with prompt recognition and treatment, the chance of dying from melanoma is rare (level 1 melanoma has a 5-year survival rate of >99%), however, in some cases the melanoma has already spread from the initial site where it arose, and in this situation treatment options can be limited. The chance of an individual patient dying from a melanoma has dropped in the last 10 years due to early recognition and treatment of this cancer, so don't delay if you believe you may have one.
Skin cancers are managed with either destructive methods or excision. Radiation therapy is use in limited circumstances for aggressive skin cancer or for treatment of skin cancers where surgery or curettage is inappropriate or not possible.
Skin cancers can be treated using surgical and non surgical treatments.
Surgical treatments used for treatment of skin cancers are physical treatments to remove the tumour. Depending on the thickness of the lesion the treatment may be more or less invasive. Thicker tumours are generally treated with excision and techniques include elipse (boat shaped excision), flaps and grafts. On occasion the wound may be left open for a period of time to await results of histopathology (as in the so called 'Slow Moh's'), but in most cases the wound is closed immediately following the removal of the tumour. Surgical treatments also include diathermy and serial curettage. This is usually used for superficial tumours on areas of the body where recurrence is less likely. Both small and large tumours can be treated with this technique.
Non surgical treatments are treatments using medications to attack and remove the tumour. They include Aldara (Imiquimod), Efudix, and Metvix PDT (Photodynamic therapy). These treatments are generally used for lesions which are thin and on areas of the body where recurrence is less likely, although small superficial lesions on higher risk areas may be suitable for these treatments.
Skin tags are small benign growths attached to the skin by a small thin stalk. Skin tag removal is a simple process completed by a doctor. Removing skin tags at home can be painful and often bleed heavily or become infected.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common skin cancer, and often occur in elderly people who have had extensive sun exposure over their lifetimes.
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