Skin Cancer

How is skin cancer treated?

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Team MoleMap Creator
Posted 07/01/19
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If skin cancer such as melanoma is detected early, more often than not, it can be treated. The longer a tumour has the chance to grow in size and depth, the more dangerous it becomes. The good news is that if diagnosed early, most skin cancer can be treated with minor surgery, using local anaesthetic.

These days, there are several surgical techniques available including excision (removing the tumour) and biopsy (removing and examining a tissue sample of the cancerous area).

The type of treatment really depends on the type of skin cancer detected. For Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma, a biopsy is generally performed first to confirm diagnosis. To learn more about Basal and Squamous Cell Carcinomas, click here.

For Melanoma, it depends on the type of melanoma, the size, location and depth of the tumour (how far it has spread), along with your age and general health. Your skin specialist, GP or surgeon can advise you on the best form of treatment for you.

For all three types of skin cancer, these are some of the usual treatment options:

Biopsy
The skin is numbed with local anaesthetic, a tissue sample from the suspected area is removed and sent for examination to confirm diagnosis. If tumour cells are confirmed, treatment is required. This is often carried out by your GP - or they may refer you to a specialist dermatologist or skin cancer surgeon.

Excision
The entire lesion, as well as a surrounding area of healthy skin, is removed, and the site is closed with stitches. Success is generally above 95 percent with this treatment.1 Again, many GP’s will perform minor surgery or they may refer you to a dermatologist or skin cancer specialist.

Topical and oral medications
There are creams, gels and solutions, and some oral medications that are used to treat some types of Squamous or Basal Cell Carcinomas. Ask your GP or skin cancer specialist if this is right for you.

Treatments for more advanced skin cancer
Treatment for more advanced skin cancers can include more targeted therapies using topical treatments, radiotherapy, immunotherapy and/or micrographic surgery. These would all be discussed by your doctor, skin specialist and oncologist.

That’s the treatment, what’s the prevention?
Now that you understand some of the treatments involved for skin cancer, the important thing is to try to avoid needing them in the first place! Remember that early detection is the best protection - and prevention is even better.

Look after your skin and your family’s skin. Check your skin regularly, wear sunscreen every day, cover up when outdoors (especially between 10am and 4pm during the daylight savings months), and schedule check-ups with your doctor or skin specialist every year.

Does Molemap treat skin cancers?
No, MoleMap specialises in detecting and diagnosing skin cancers using a combination of advanced technology and skin cancer expertise. We have deliberately chosen not to offer surgery for melanoma or other skin cancers, because that means our recommendations are completely unbiased.

What’s more, because MoleMap’s proven system can more accurately identify melanoma, there is less need to surgically remove benign (harmless) moles.2 At the end of the day, we would far rather our patients avoid unnecessary surgeries - and unnecessary scarring.

To learn more about melanoma and the risks of developing it, click here, or to check out MoleMap’s range of skin check services, click here.

References: 1. https://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/basal-cell-carcinoma/bcc-treatment-options 2. Youl, P. H et al. Diagnosing skin cancer in primary care: how do mainstream general practitioners compare with primary care skin cancer clinic doctors. Med J Aust 2007;187(4):215-220.

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