Living in the beautiful Queensland sunshine, we’re unfortunately some of the most prone people to skin cancer.
Whether you’ve recently been diagnosed or this is an ongoing journey, we understand that this can be a confusing time.
If you need a skin cancer clinic in Cairns we can help. You may feel isolated, scared, and have lots of questions.
At this tough and confusing time, finding a surgeon you can trust should be the least of your worries – booking an appointment with renowned surgeon Dr Hertess can help put your mind at ease.
What are the types of skin cancer?
Skin cancer – the abnormal growth of skin cells – often develops on skin exposed to the sun but can also form on areas that aren’t ordinarily exposed (like the soles of your feet).
There are three major types of skin cancer – basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma. BCC and SCC are often grouped together – combined they’re referred to as “non-melanoma” skin cancers. BCC accounts for 70% of non-melanoma skin cancer.
Basal cell skin cancer (BCC) and Squamous cell skin cancer (SCC)
While commonly benign, both BCC and SCC skin cancers spread slowly and are usually localised. They’re unlikely to spread if they’re identified and treated early.
Melanoma is the second most common cancer diagnosis in far north Queensland, and the median age for diagnosis is 63.
Which skin cancer grows fastest?
Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer; it is fast-growing and, if left untreated, can quickly spread to other parts of the body.
Nodular melanoma grows quickly and looks different from common melanoma, they are raised and even in colour – many are red or pink; some are brown or black.
How is skin cancer removed?
There are two types of treatments applied to skin cancer patients:
- Surgical, where the troubled area is cut out, and
- Non-surgical, like chemotherapy treatments
The most common surgical treatment is excision, which is suitable for skin cancer in face removal and body removal.
Surgical skin cancer treatment means the skin cancer is surgically removed (cut out).
This involves an incision around the cancer, as well as around the healthy skin (called the “margin”) to ensure all dangerous cells are removed.
Procedures are performed under local anaesthesia, where they numb the specific area, then the healthy tissue is stitched back together.
After surgery to remove a large skin cancer, it may not be possible to stretch the nearby skin enough to stitch the edges of the wound together.
If that’s the case, healthy skin can 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, such as moving ‘flaps’ of nearby skin over the wound, can also be helpful in some ways.
How can you tell if a spot is skin cancer?
If you’re worried about a mole or blemish, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about your risk and get to know what’s normal for your skin. Skin cancers rarely hurt and are much more frequently seen than felt.
How to check your skin: what are the signs of skin cancer
The sooner you spot a potential mole or blemish, the better your treatment options.
Look over your face and scalp, neck and shoulders, front and back of your arms including your armpits, the front and back of hands, between your fingers and under the fingernails, your legs, between the toes and on the soles of your feet.
Cancer.org suggests the ABCDE of melanoma detection:
- A is for asymmetry – look for spots that are not symmetrical
- B is for border – a spot with a spreading or irregular edge
- C is for colour – spots with a number of colours such as black, blue, red, white or grey
- D is for diameter – look for spots that are getting bigger
- E is for evolving – spots that are changing and growing
If you notice changes to your moles or new moles appearing, it’s always best to air on the safe side and have these checked. If you have a lot of moles and freckles, we recommend regular appointments with a dermatologist to make a mole map of your body.
Skin checks are recommended at minimum once per year.
Pay attention to the early sign of skin cancer:
- New moles
- Moles that increase in size
- An outline of a mole that becomes notched
- A spot that changes colour from brown to black or is varied
- A spot that becomes raised or develops a lump within it
- The surface of a mole becoming rough, scaly or ulcerated
- Moles that itch, tingle, bleed, or weep
Schedule an appointment at Cairns Plastic Surgery with our skin cancer surgeon Dr Isolde Hertess. Dr Hertess she can thoroughly assess your skin and inform you of the most effective treatment.
Book a free consultation with one of our trusted nurses to discuss the details of what you need. Our friendly team can answer any questions and refer you to helpful resources.