SKIN CANCER overveiw
At PRSM we aim to provide you as much information on your condition as possible before your appointment so that you are well informed and have a chance to list down any questions you may want to ask. You will find some relevant information here on skin cancers and treatment options.
Dr Dhillon has performed thousands of skin cancer removal operations. He is routinely involved in large and complex removal and reconstruction of skin cancers of the face and body at large tertiary level hospitals in Melbourne in particular with regard to complex microsurgical face and head & neck cancer reconstruction.
Skin cancer is the commonest type of cancer to affect Australians with over 380,000 people in this country treated annually for skin cancer. Australia also has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. Fortunately over 95% of skin cancers can be cured if detected and treated early.
THE HUMAN SKIN
Our skin is the largest organ of the human body and has many important functions in protecting us from injury, harsh temperatures and from disease. There are many skin types however regardless of skin colour or type, it can be damaged and become diseased or form skin cancer.
The human skin is a complex organ which in general is made of 2 layers called the epidermis (outer layer) and dermis (inner layer). The epidermis contains 3 basic cell types called basal cells, squamous cells and melanocytes and when these cells become damaged and turn cancerous they form what we commonly know as Basal Cell Cancer (BCC), Squamous Cell Cancer (SCC) or Melanoma depending on which cell type has become cancerous.
SKIN AND SUN DAMAGE
The skin is our largest and most exposed organ and throughout our life is exposed to harsh environmental conditions including ultraviolet radiation (UV). These harsh exposures can lead to permanent skin damage and the more exposure to the sun and UV rays the worse the skin damage will be.
In the early stages, these sun damaged areas of skin can be described as "premature ageing" with deep wrinkles, scaly red skin and formation of sunspots (solar keratosis). Prolonged and excessive exposure to UV radiation can permanently damage skin cells leading to different types of skin cancers which we will discuss in detail under "different types of skin cancer" section.
As you age, your skin gets thinner and more easily damaged. It is important to protect your skin and reduce UV exposure to prevent your skin from aging sooner than the natural process and to prevent skin cancers.
UV can cause skin cancer and in Australia, 2 out of 3 people will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70 years. It is important to monitor your skin, and we recommend that you do this regularly specifically looking for any new changes in the skin or changes to any old moles, freckles or sun spots. As well as regular checks by yourself, we recommend you see a GP or dermatologist once a year for a professional skin check and do self check for changes in your skin. If you have had skin cancer before or have fair and damaged skin, more regular checks may be recommended.