Early recognition followed by timely and accurate diagnosis are the first steps in effective skin cancer management so it is important to monitor your own skin and seek medical advice if you have any concerns.
Signs and symptoms of skin cancer include:
- New or existing spots that appear red, scaly, itchy and/or bleed, and don’t seem to heal
- Change in colour, size, texture, shape of any moles, freckles or other spots
- The most commonly affected areas are those which are more often exposed to the sun, such as the face, ears, neck, scalp, shoulders, back and hand
Everyone should have regular skin checks particularly those at high risk of developing skin cancer, including people with fair skin, light hair and blue eyes, a history of previous skin cancers, radiation exposure and immunosuppression.
Following accurate diagnosis of a skin lesion, an appropriate management strategy must be formed with a through and up-to-date knowledge of current treatment protocols. Management of skin cancer can be complex and requires prioritization of most effective cancer treatment and recurrence prevention, balanced with patient health and cosmesis.
During your consultation Dr Taylor will ask you about your medical history including any previous skin lesions and their treatment and information about your risk factors. A thorough examination will be performed. A biopsy will be performed as required, for suspicious lesions. Skin biopsies are performed under local anaesthetic in the office. As biopsy involves taking a small sample of the lesion such as a punch biopsy, or the entire lesion may be removed with an excision biopsy. Wounds are suturedand dressed as required. The sample or lesion is then sent for formal histological diagnosis by a Pathologist. Any further treatment will be recommended once the results are known.
Following accurate diagnosis of skin cancer, a treatment plan will be recommended in accordance with current best practice for the management of skin lesions. Treatment may involve non-surgical or surgical management. If surgery is required, some skin cancers may be excised under local anaesthetic in the rooms, and others depending on size, location and complexity, will require excision and closure in an operating theatre, typically as a day surgery procedure. Some skin cancers leave a defect after they have been removed that cannot be closed with simple stitches. As a Plastic Surgeon, Dr Taylor specializes in reconstructive techniques to repair any defect created by removal of the skin cancer. Reconstruction of a defect after skin cancer removal may involve a skin graft or local flap (transferring nearby skin and fat to fill the defect) and sometimes more complex techniques and a staged approach is required.
Risks and complications
It is common to experience some swelling and discomfort around the incisions after surgery. Risks and complications depend on the location and extent of your skin cancer surgery and reconstruction but may include:
- Incomplete excision
- Changes in skin sensation
- Changes in appearance
- Unfavourable scarring