Brisbane has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Skin cancer will affect up to 50% of Queenslanders. Even though public education campaigns have helped patients to present for care earlier than in the past, it is vital for at risk individuals to have regular skin checks and have their skin cancers managed in a timely manner.
At Westside Dermatology, we provide specialist screening as well as both surgical and non-surgical options for skin cancer management.
For some skin cancers, surgery is the optimal treatment option. Our surgically trained specialist dermatologists will perform this in our on-site theatres.
For less aggressive, early or pre-cancerous lesions, non-surgical options are available. Photodynamic therapy(PDT) has revolutionized non-surgical skin cancer management, providing a less invasive treatment, which combines a high rate of cure with an excellent cosmetic outcome. Your dermatologist will advise you as to your suitability for this treatment.
More on Photodynamic Therapy
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Originating in the skin’s pigment-producing cells, melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer. It is, however, almost always curable if picked up at an early stage.
Melanomas either develop from an existing mole or appear as a new brown, red or black spot which changes and grows in size.
Early detection is all-important, meaning that any suspicious mole should be checked by a dermatologist as soon as it is discovered. Dr Shobhan Manoharan outlined the importance of early detection and treatment in a high-profile case in a Sydney Morning Herald article.
In addition to close follow up with your medical professional, self-examination should be performed every two to three months.
Features to look out for:
Dysplastic naevi (also known as Atypical Naevi) are moles that look clinically and microscopically to have unusual and abnormal features.
They may be a precursor to melanoma, and there is also a strong genetic tendency for them.
Patients with large numbers of DN and have a family history of melanoma are considered to have Familial Atypical Melanoma and Mole Syndrome (or Dysplastic Naevus Syndrome) and are at a high-risk group themselves for melanoma.
These high-risk individuals should have formal screening performed by a Dermatologist on a regular basis whereby risk factors as well as frequency of follow-ups will be determined. At Westside Dermatology, they are seen at Professor Peter Soyer’s Melanoma ad Mole Clinic.
BCC is the most common type of skin cancer. Their growth tends to be quite slow, taking a period of months to years, and only rarely do these cancers spread throughout the body.
BCCs most commonly appear on the face, head, neck and trunk regions and can occur in difficult to treat areas such as near the eye and the lower legs. In most cases they are curable and one can achieve excellent cosmetic results.
Although they are rarely a threat to life, if left untreated they can grow, erode and destroy adjoining structures. Loss of whole organs, such as the nose, ear and eye, can occasionally occur. BCCs are more easily and successfully treated in their early stages. The larger a tumour the more extensive the treatment required.
For certain superficial BCCs, non-surgical treatment, particularly Photodynamic therapy (PDT),allows for better healing with minimal scarring. For more aggressive BCCs, management by our specialist surgically trained dermatologists is the best option.
Other treatment options, depending on the subtype of BCC include:
Your dermatologist will discuss with you the best therapeutic option for your individual type and location of BCC.
This form of skin cancer may start off as solar keratoses: rough, flaky patches or wart-like bumps that appear on the face, scalp, ears, and backs of the hands. Some keratoses disappear on their own; others remain stable. However, approximately 10-20% become fully developed cancers. They are completely curable if caught early. Left untreated, they can metastasize and be fatal.
A skin biopsy is performed to make a diagnosis. Precancerous solar keratoses are removed with traditional cryotherapy (freezing with liquid nitrogen) or more advanced photodynamic therapy (less risk of scarring and colour change). Invasive SCCs usually require surgery by your Westside Dermatologist. In certain cases radiotherapy is utilized either on its own or as combination therapy.