BULK BILLED No referral needed

Skin Cancer Patient Information

OZ Skin Cancer Clinic is an advocate for the wider awareness of skin cancer in the community. We encourage our patients to be familiar with skin cancer prevention, how to best self-examine for main types of skin cancer in between visits and be aware of the most common treatment methods. For more specific information about your upcoming skin health check, you may like to also visit our FAQs or contact us prior to your visit.

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Why Choose a Skin Cancer Clinic?

Skin Cancer Clinics provide the community with a dedicated facility of expert physicians for the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer, removing the common waiting times involved in seeing a Dermatologist.
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Types of Skin Cancer

The skin contains many freckles, moles and other imperfections based on your skin type that might draw you or your partner’s attention. Most of these are likely benign, meaning they are not cancerous, yet amongst these there may be some skin lesions that are at risk of becoming, or may already be, cancerous. There are three main types of Skin Cancer; Basel Cell Carcinomas, Squamous Cell Carcinomas and Melanomas. It is important to be aware of the difference in each of these so you can be more informed during your visit to our clinic.

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

A basal cell carcinoma is the most common and also least risky type of skin cancer. It usually appears on areas that get the most sun exposure like the arms, legs and face. It is a slow growing cancer and is unlikely to spread to other organs, yet still needs to be treated.

A basal cell carcinoma comes up like a small bump that looks like a flesh-coloured mole or a pimple that doesn’t go away. A basal cell carcinoma may also bleed easily and behave like a non-healing sore.

 


Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

A squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer. It is fairly slow growing but can spread to surrounding tissue more easily than a Basel Cell Carcinoma. It is important to detect these early and remove them entirely.

A Squamous Cell Carcinoma appears as a dome-shaped bump or a red scaly patch of skin and can bleed easily when scraped.

 


Melanoma

This is rarest but also the most serious form of skin cancer, although if caught early it is almost always curable. A melanoma is faster growing and can move quickly to the bloodstream then spread to other parts of the body which, when occurs, becomes a lot more difficult to treat and can be fatal.

A melanoma can occur anywhere on the body and appears as a brown, black, grey or even pink-coloured lesion. It is often hard to distinguish a melanoma from a benign mole with the naked eye. Fortunately, with the development of dermascopic technology, as doctors we can now identify melanoma at early stages.

If you find changes in an existing mole, notice a new mole or have concerns about any lesions, it is important to book an appointment with us for a skin health check as soon as possible.

 

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Skin Cancer Prevention

Skin Cancer Prevention Skin cancer is caused when your skin has prolonged exposure to Ultra-Violet (UV) radiation, (either as a one-off excessive exposure or chronic accumulated exposure), most commonly from the sun (but this also includes tanning beds). While avoiding UV exposure from an early age is critical, it is never too late to take these preventative steps to avoid UV radiation, reducing your risk of developing skin cancer.

Use a high factor sunscreen (50+ or higher) whenever you are exposed to the sun. Ensure you apply 20 minutes before going outdoors and re-apply after 4 hours (or more frequently when exercising or in water). Be aware that on overcast days the UV risk can be just as high.

  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat that covers your face, ears and neck when outdoors.
  • Wear appropriate clothing that covers as much skin as possible, even when in the water.
  • Avoid tanning beds and intentional sun exposure. While skin cancer is not immediate, sun exposure earlier in life significantly increases the risk later in life.
  • Get a regular skin health check. This often-neglected step is one of the most important to remember. When detected early most skin cancers can be treated effectively. Skin cancer can occur at any age but the development of it increases as you get older. Every adult in Australia should have a regular skin health check, which is why we offer bulk-billing to our patients for this service.
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Sun Protection For Children

Protecting children from the sun is critical to avoid the incidence of skin cancer later in their lives. If you as a parent have been affected by skin cancer, it is likely that your children have inherited a similar skin type and will also have the same risk profile.

While similar preventative measures apply to children as they do for adults, parents need to ensure children are not put in situations where they are likely to be exposed to the sun unprotected for long periods of time.

You should generally not use sunscreen on babies or only use a specifically formulated sun-screen made for infants, to avoid any potential skin reaction. Always try a new sunscreen on a small area of your child first before applying to a larger area. However, ensuring your child wears a suitable hat and rash vest is the best form of protection whilst they are exposed to the sun.

While skin cancer in children is uncommon, it can occur. If you notice any significant changes in your child’s moles or even birthmarks, it is worth getting these checked to be safe.

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Skin Cancer Treatment

If a skin cancer is detected, removal is the only way to ensure it will not spread to the surrounding tissue or other organs. Treatment can take a few main forms including:

Cryosurgery

The skin cancer is frozen off using liquid nitrogen applied using a hand-held gun. This is a simple and non-invasive method. It stings a little on application and then a small welt appears which scabs over and heals, usually within a week.

Topical creams, e.g. Imiquimod (Aldara), Flourouracil (Efudix)

This is a cream used to destroy cancer cells, applied by the patient themselves over a number of weeks. It is only effective on some types of cancers.

Curettage

Used in the case of superficial surface based skin cancers, the cancer is scraped off the skin. It avoids sutures and leaves a white scar. Surgical excision The most common form of removal is surgical excision. The skin cancer and a surrounding area is removed under a local anaesthetic and closed using sutures. Depending on the size of the excision a flap or skin graft may be required.

Mohs’ Micrographic Surgery

Mainly used in complex cases, this treatment is highly specialised. The skin is scraped successively and analysed under a microscope until all of the cancer has been removed. This intends to conserve as much normal skin as possible and is commonly used for sensitive areas of body.

Radiation

For the elderly or those in poor health and unable to undergo surgery, an x-ray treatment may be applied. X-rays are directed at the cancer over a series of repeated treatments to neutralise the skin cancer cells. This may also be applied on areas of the body where it is difficult to make an excision.

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Ongoing Skin Health Checks

Following the discovery of a skin cancer, and its removal, you will be asked to return for more frequent skin health checks to ensure no other skin cancers are present. Developing a skin cancer indicates your skin is susceptible to developing further skin cancers, and simply requires more vigilance. If no skin cancers appear in subsequent check-ups, the frequency of these appointments can be spaced out further.