Skin cancer is a common type of cancer that begins in one of the layers of the skin. It is usually, (but not always) found in areas of skin that have been exposed to the sun. People with fair skin are more prone to skin cancers compared to darker-skinned people. Your risk of being diagnosed wi th sk in cancer also increases with age.
Around 80% of cancers diagnosed by doctors are skin cancers.2
There are 2 types of skin cancer: melanoma and non-mel anoma. Over 85% of skin cancers are non-melanoma skin cancers.
In Australia we have the highest rate of skin cancers in the world.
Any new or unusual spot, lump or growth on your skin could be a skin cancer. A new mole, a mote that changes in size or shape and looks different to your other mol es should be investigated. If a spot or mole is rough, lumpy, itchy, bleeding or weeping, it s important to get it checked.
Melanoma is an uncommon type of skin cancer, but it is also the most dangerous one. It can readily spread to other parts of the body. Melanomas begin to form in skin cells called 'mel anocytes· and can be red, pink, brown or black. A melanoma requires urgent treatment.
Non-melanoma skin cancers are much more common. They don't spread as easily but if left untreated, they will keep growing, destroying more skin and affecting underlying tissues.
If you have discovered a suspicious spot, your GP is usually your first port of call. They have been trained to detect skin cancers. Your GP may refer you to a dermatologist or surgeon. You can also go directly to a skin cancer clinic. Your treating doctor will look carefully at the spot and may check the rest of your body as well. A biopsy (where a small part of the spot is removed and sent for testing) is often performed. Sometimes a biopsy will remove all of a skin cancer and no further treatment is needed.
Treatment depends on the type of skin cancer and how advanced it is.If not treated early, skin cancer can spread which makes treatment more complicated.
For melanomas and some non-melanoma skin cancers, the doctor will most likely recommend surgery and/or radiation therapy. Your doctor may also recommend targeted therapy and/or immunotherapy drugs.
Surgeryis the most common first line therapy. The doctor first applies an anaesthetic, then cuts out the cancerous tissue. They may close the wound with stitches. For larger cancers, a skin graft from another part of your body may be required. Surgery may leave a scar.
Radiation therapy. This type of treatment uses a controlled dose of strong x-rays to kill or damage the skin cancer cells.
Targeted therapy is a drug treatment used to treat skin cancer that has already spread. It may be combined with lymph node surgery if your cancer has reached the lymph nodes.
Immunotherapy drugs can also be used in advanced skin cancers to help your body fight the cancer.
Surgery is also a common treatment option for non-melanoma skin cancer; in particular ‘Mohs’ surgery. This is an invasive procedure to remove the cancer in several steps. First, a thin layer of tissue is removed. Then, a second thin layer of tissue is removed and viewed under a microscope to check for cancer cells. Layers are removed one at a time until the tissue viewed under a microscope shows no remaining cancer.
Electrodessication and curretage is an option for some non-melanoma skin cancers. The doctor scoops out the cancer with a small, spoon-shaped instrument, then seals the wound and destroys any remaining cancer cells using heat.
External beam radiation is sometimes used instead of surgery, especially for large non-melanoma skin cancers or for people who are not well enough to have surgery.10,13 It uses a beam of electrons to kill the cancer cells.
Light-based treatment may be recommended for early non-melanoma skin cancers. For 2-3 weeks the skin is prepared by applying cream or ointment daily. Then the doctor places you under an LED phototherapy lamp. This provokes an immune reaction by your body which kills the skin cancer. The process may or may not be painful.
Cryotherapy (freezing). This can be used for small, shallow skin cancers. After applying an anaesthetic, the doctor uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the cancer and destroy the cells. A blister or sore may form which heals, revealing healthy skin. Reduced skin pigmentation may occur.
Topical Treatment. For Bowen’s disease (a mild, slow-growing type of skin cancer), a chemotherapy cream can be applied to the skin for a period of time. Burning, redness and sores may occur.
Rhenium-SCT therapy.his is a type of localised radiation therapy that uses a rhenium-188 isotope which is applied as a paste for a single session* lasting 45 to 180 minutes.14-16 It is painless† and non-invasive.‡14,15 A crust or scab forms that may become itchy. Rhenium-188 therapy leaves no scar but the skin may appear lighter.
*Complete tumour regression in 98.5% of lesions treated.
†No reported pain
‡A procedure is considered non-invasive when no break or cut in the skin is created.
In Australia, specialist skin cancer treatment centres provide a range of treatment options for non-melanoma skin cancers. A GP or dermatologist referral is needed for some, but for others, you can make an appointment directly. If you would like information about these options, there are clinics in Melbourne and Sydney specialising in this type of therapy. Rhenium-188 therapy is a painless, single-session*†14,15 , non-invasive‡ treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer available in Germany, South Africa, Italy, UK and now, Australia.
Avion Medical Skin Centres (AMSC) is a specialist centre for the assessment and treatment of skin cancers. Based in the heart of the biomedical precinct in Melbourne, AMSC combines highly trained experts in the field with the very latest technology and treatment solutions. Supporting both full patient care or specific treatment path under health care professional referral, AMSC has been established as a centre of excellence for skin cancers.
AMSC is a welcoming and comfortable day treatment centre, in the heart of Melbourne’s hospital precinct. AMSC offers all patients a comfortable armchair during treatment, walled private areas… and spectacular views over Melbourne’s city skyline.
Address: 14-20 Blackwood St, North Melbourne VIC 3051
Phone: 1300 844 204
Email: [email protected]
The Sydney Brachytherapy Group (SBG) is a tertiary referral clinic and a certified, licenced and accredited nuclear medicine medical facility at the interventional suites of the North Shore Medical Group. It offers multi-specialist, multidisciplinary healthcare and is a specialist treatment provider of epidermal radioisotope therapy for Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers.
SBG has specialist medical practitioners onsite and works with accredited visiting medical officers, including nuclear physicians, dermatologists, plastic surgeons, skin cancer surgeons and oncologists, to provide advanced beta-radiation brachytherapy for patients.
Address: 156-158 Pacific Highway, Greenwich NSW 2065
Phone: (02) 8061 4048
Email: [email protected]
Australia is recognised as the skin cancer capital of the world.
Most skin cancers are caused by exposure to UV radiation from the sun. People with white skin used to think that having a suntan looked healthy. But there is no such thing as a healthy tan. A tan is your skin reacting to trauma.
UV radiation from the sun causes damage to your skin which builds up over time and increases your risk of skin cancer. It also causes premature ageing of your skin with an increase in lines, moles, sunspots and wrinkles.
Your particular risk of skin cancer also depends on your complexion and how your skin responds to the sun.
The best way to reduce your risk of skin cancer is to protect your skin from the sun. For the best sun protection, the Australian Cancer Council recommends a combination of protective measures whenever you go outside: