Skin cancer: in Australia, it’s the most common type of cancer.
Despite that, many Aussies actually aren’t familiar with how to identify it, what can increase its risk, and what’s involved in skin cancer treatment.
This is why our skin cancer clinic at Cairns is taking the time to go into greater detail about some of the most common skin cancer FAQs, from early detection to the types of skin cancer as well as how it’s treated.
After all, we’re a country where two out of three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer of some sort in their lifetime – a staggering and somewhat frightening statistic.
Skin cancer treatment in Cairns is available thanks to our skin expert’s help – Dr Isolde Hertess can perform skin checks, test for abnormalities or changes to your skin, look at moles and freckles, recommend skin cancer treatment cream, and of course perform skin cancer surgery and removal.
Question #1: How do you identify skin cancer?
Skin cancer can appear anywhere on the surface of the skin, not just the typical areas you would guess; that’s why you should be aware of any suspicious spots on your skin.
If you notice any changes to marks, moles, or spots on the surface of your skin, and it’s met with itching, bleeding, and any other discomfort or pain, then you need to consult a skin expert for skin cancer treatment and assessment right away.
It’s important to perform skin checks periodically (and also visit a professional for checks yearly) to help you become familiar with the spots on your body, and importantly, discover any changes. These could include:
- A change of color and size of the mole
- A sore part of your skin that heals and then returns
- Black or brown streak under your nail
- Patch in your skin with scales
- Growth of a red, dome shaped lesion
Question #2: How do you feel when you have skin cancer?
“Will I feel unwell? Am I going to be in pain if I have skin cancer?”
We all know that moles and spots are the first physical symptoms of skin cancer – what fewer people know is that in some cases, the early signs are also accompanied by physical pain or discomfort.
One of the earliest signs that something’s not quite right is that your skin looks and feels scaly and swollen. This is often accompanied with minor pain and occasionally, even bleeding.
Others may feel a persistent itch or tenderness around new spots and bumps (which can get bigger over time).
The melanoma type of skin cancer in particular is more dangerous and aggressive – this type of skin cancer usually spreads faster and reaches the different body parts and organs.
It usually appears as large brown or dark spots; the mole can often change in size and colour. While these spots are sometimes not accompanied by pain, they may itch or bleed.
Question #3: What do skin cancer bumps look like?
Your skin changes with age – you get more spots and elasticity starts to decrease… so how do you know if you’re dealing with regular ageing or skin cancer growth?
Unusual bumps – specifically a basal cell carcinoma (BCC) or squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) – may first appear as a pale patch in your skin.
In other cases, it can take the appearance of a brownish or a flesh-coloured lesion that bleeds easily and can even be crusty. These rough and lesion-like patches often develop slowly and usually appear on the neck, head, arms, hands and other higher-risk parts of your body (those which have a higher exposure to the sun).
Question #4: Can skin cancer go away by itself?
Unfortunately, no – cancerous growths, including skin cancer, don’t heal or go away by themselves without undergoing any treatment. At best, they’ll be benign and won’t grow.
Each growth has the potential to spread to other parts of the body depending on its stage.
Skin cancer is difficult to predict and may take in other forms of lesions; that’s why it is very important to consult with your skin expert for any skin cancer therapy at Cairns.
Dome-shaped bumps and tumours may also get bigger due to prolonged sun exposure as well as family history, the type of skin cancer, and the stage that it is at.
Question #5: How long can you have skin cancer without knowing?
Early detection is the key to protecting yourself from skin cancer – thankfully, it’s easy most of the time, as most forms of skin cancer can be detected with nothing more than a visual inspection.
In others however, the growth can remain for years before a diagnosis is confirmed, by which point many early treatment options are no longer feasible.
Depending on the stage and type of skin cancer you have, you may need to arrange skin cancer plastic surgery, which involves creating an incision around the cancerous growth and removing the cancerous cells (and any surrounding cells).
Such treatment may be followed by radiation treatment or chemotherapy, depending on the affected area’s condition.
Question #6: Can you die from skin cancer?
While most skin cancer is benign, it’s still a form of cancer – without the right skin cancer treatment, chances are it can spread.
Cancer cells rapidly duplicate in an uncontrolled manner, overtaking and killing healthy cells and tissue. If detected early however, skin cancer can be treated and removed before it has time to spread from the skin to the rest of your body.
Question #7: What age do you usually get skin cancer?
People who spend a lot of time working outdoors or sunbathe often (a given since we live in Cairns) have a considerably higher risk of developing skin cancer.
While skin cancer diagnosis is most common in those over the age of 50, it isn’t uncommon for those in their 30s or even young adults to be diagnosed with melanomas and other growths.
Age is just one factor that impacts skin cancer development.
Other factors that can impact skin cancer include genetics, fair or sensitive skin, a history of sunburn, previous cancers, and medication.
It also depends on what measures you take to protect yourself – good sunscreen and long sleeves can go a long way towards reducing your sun cancer risk.
Book a skin check at Cairns Plastic Surgery today
It’s important that you understand the fundamentals of how skin cancer works – if you live in sunny Cairns however, it’s also crucial that you get your skin examined on a regular basis, and whenever you notice any new spots or unusual skin issues.
When was the last time you had a skin check? If you don’t know the answer, we encourage you to book one right away.
Cairns Plastic Surgery doesn’t just offer cosmetic treatments – our experienced team provides you with a range of skin cancer treatments, including:
- Skin checks and diagnosis
- Skin cancer surgery
- Alternate treatment options
We make it our mission to:
- Offer extensive pre- and post-operative support
- Provide in-depth care programs
- Treats you with care, respect and sensitivity