Skin cancer occurs when skin cells are damaged, for example, by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
Every year, in Australia:
- Skin cancers account for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers.
- Between 95 and 99% of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun
- GPs have over 1 million patient consultations per year for skin cancer
- The incidence of skin cancer is one of the highest in the world, two to three times the rates in Canada, the US and the UK.
Although there are many types of skin cancers, there are three main types:
- Basel cell carcinoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma
- Melignant Melanoma
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
This is the most frequent skin cancer and fortunately is the least aggressive. 90% of these occur on the face, neck or head, but they can occur on any sun exposed part of the body. They are slow growing, but if left untreated will “eat” into flesh and destroy tissue.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
SCC’s are the second most common skin cancer. These tend to grow more quickly and if not treated properly, can spread to other parts of the body and may be lethal. They mainly occur on sun exposed and sun damaged parts of the body.
Malignant Melanoma (MM)
This is the most dangerous skin cancer. Unfortunately it is the commonest type of cancer seen in people between the ages of 15 and 44 years. Melanoma can occur in skin that has not been sun exposed, it can develop from a pre-existing mole, but it can also develop in areas of normal skin.
This is similar to an excisional biopsy but in this case the diagnosis is already known. For this procedure, the skin is first numbed with a local anesthetic. The tumor is then cut out with a surgical knife, along with some surrounding normal skin. The remaining skin is carefully stitched back together, leaving a small scar.
Curettage and electrodesiccation
This treatment removes the cancer by scraping it with a curette (a long, thin instrument with a sharp looped edge on one end), then treating the area with an electric needle (electrode) to destroy any remaining cancer cells. This process is often repeated. Curettage and electrodesiccation is a good treatment for superficial (confined to the top layer of skin) basal cell and squamous cell cancers. It will leave a small scar.
Mohs surgery (microscopically controlled surgery)
Using the Mohs technique, the surgeon removes a very thin layer of the skin (including the tumor) and then checks the sample under a microscope. If cancer cells are seen, the next layer is removed and examined. This is repeated until the skin samples are found to be free of cancer cells. This process is slow, often taking several hours, but it means that more normal skin near the tumor can be saved. This creates a better appearance after surgery
SKIN GRAFTING AND RECONSTRUCTION
After removing large non-melanoma skin cancers, it may not be possible to stretch the nearby skin enough to stitch the edges of the wound together. In these cases, healthy skin may be taken from another part of the body and grafted over the wound to help it heal and to restore the appearance of the affected area. Other reconstructive surgical procedures can also be helpful in some cases.
It is important that your decision to have a cosmetic surgery procedure is considered carefully.There are also some possible risks, as with all procedures, which your plastic surgeon will talk through and explain to you at your consultation, answering any questions you may have.
This is your opportunity to discuss your intended surgery so the plastic surgeon can ascertain your expectations as to what can realistically be achieved.
Initially you should have a detailed consultation at Profile Perfection to discuss the different types of procedure options available to you. Together we can discuss the options of which surgeons are specialised in this type of procedure and organise a consultation with the surgeon.
Once all of your questions and queries have been answered and you are ready to go ahead with the procedure we can start your journey. You will have a high level of support from beginning to end.
Having a procedure can be very daunting and you will feel that you do not know which procedure will be best for you. Which surgeon should I pick? Who will answer all of my questions when I get worried? What questions should l ask the surgeon?
Your expert nurse counsellor at Profile Perfection will discuss all your options and answer any questions or concerns you have about the procedure while assisting you with the initial steps towards surgery through to recovery.