Skin cancers are the most common cancers in the world and Southeast Queensland is the world’s capital for skin cancers. Whilst melanoma is the most feared type of skin cancer, Squamous Cell and Basal Cell cancers are far more frequently seen.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most commonly diagnosed skin cancer. Basal cell carcinoma is rarely fatal and does not normally spread, but it is still important to catch it in the early stages so that the surgical removal is as non-invasive as possible.
Basal cell carcinomas occur on sun-exposed areas and often look like pink bumps with the following features:
Pearly or waxy appearance
Irregular blood vessels on the surface
Tendency to bleed easily after injury
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer after basal cell carcinoma. It is rarely deadly, but may spread or recur if not caught early. Squamous cell carcinoma is often found on areas with more sun exposure. If any of the descriptions below apply to you, have it checked out.
Raised, dull-red skin lesion
Thick crusted scale
Melanoma is the most aggressive form of skin cancer and the most likely to spread early in it’s course.
The ABCDE rule is a good guide to the common signs of melanoma.
A (Asymmetry) — Melanomas often have an asymmetrical border, whereas benign moles are usually symmetrical.
B (Border irregularity) — Melanomas often have ragged or notched borders, whereas benign moles usually don’t.
C (Color) — Melanomas often contain multiple shades of brown or black within a single mole, whereas benign moles are generally one shade.
D (Diameter) — Early melanomas are often 6mm or larger, while benign moles are generally less than 6mm.
E (Evolution) — The symmetry, border, color or diameter of a mole has changed over time.
Most skin cancers of the head and neck are treated with surgery. The aim of surgery is to take the cancer away with the minimum of normal surrounding tissue required to have confidence it is all out. The tumour is analysed under the microscope by a pathologist who reports if has been completely removed.
The defect is then repaired with a skin graft or a flap of adjacent skin. Occasionally more extensive reconstruction requiring several stages and additional tissues may be required.
In some circumstances surgery to remove the lymph nodes in the neck or radiotherapy may be required for complete treatment.
Your surgeon is an expert in treating these cancers, large or small and reconstructing the area for the best cosmetic result.