Skin cancer and melanoma

Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world. It is estimated that two thirds of people living in Australia will be diagnosed with a skin cancer before the age of 70.

Skin cancers are almost uniformly due to exposure to ultraviolet radiation (the sun). Fortunately, skin cancers are readily amenable to treatment in their early stages. For many patients, skin cancer surgery can be performed under local anaesthetic in our Kogarah rooms. All of our patients are also offered the option of surgery under sedation or a general anaesthetic to complete their skin cancer treatment in one of our Sydney hospitals.

The most common skin cancers requiring treatment in Sydney are squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and melanoma. In addition, there are many rarer types of skin and subcutaneous tumours that are a unique area of expertise for plastic surgeons.

Diagnosis of a skin cancer can usually be made by clinically examining the concerning spot. However, in cosmetically sensitive areas and when the diagnosis is uncertain, a small biopsy will be performed under local anaesthetic. This is the first part of your skin cancer treatment and is done in our procedure room in Kogarah. Definitive surgical treatment of a skin cancer involves excising the lesion with a margin of “normal” skin around it. This is to ensure that the tumour is removed completely and to prevent it from recurring. The margin varies for the type of tumour and the area of the body involved.

Dr Ilias Kotronakis also offers Mohs’ micrographic surgery in conjunction with Dr Andrew Satchell, a dermatologist at the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse hospital in Newtown. This is a two stage skin cancer treatment that offers the highest rate of long term cure for most SCC or BCC’s with minimal collateral damage to the surrounding tissues. It is the best skin cancer treatment option available in Sydney for patients with tumours affecting aesthetically sensitive parts of their body eg nose, eyes.

Skin cancer surgery in Kogarah is a commonly performed procedure. The appropriate management and reconstruction of skin cancer defects in cosmetically sensitive areas is specifically the area of expertise for plastic and reconstructive surgeons. The goal of our surgeons is to remove the tumour completely whilst preserving the natural appearance of your face.

Skin cancer treatment in Sydney is of a very high international standard. Plastic surgeons have special training and techniques to ensure that cancers are completely removed and that the cosmetic result is the most subtle it can be. We will ensure that every effort is made for you to look as though you have never had surgery.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

These are usually pink, round, flat or slightly raised plaques with surface scaling or ulceration. Typical symptoms include a persistent, painless or painful pink spot. SCCs can occur anywhere on the body, but have a predilection for areas of sun exposure on the arms, legs and face. If left untreated, SCCs can invade along and through nerves, lymphatics and bone. Many SCC skin cancer surgeries are performed every week in our Kogarah rooms.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)

These tumours variably present as pink plaques or fleshy bumps that can bleed. BCCs grow slowly but deeply, and can penetrate through to bone. They are the most common type of skin cancer to be treated in Sydney.

Melanoma

Melanomas are tumours of the pigment cells (melanocytes) of our skin. Risk factors for developing a melanoma include a history of previous skin cancers, blistering sunburns as a child, a family history of melanoma and numerous dysplastic moles. If treated early, patients with a melanoma has a very high survival rate. Dr Amira Sanki has additional training in the treatment of melanoma, with many internationally presented and published articles in this field. Skin cancer treatment of a melanoma is usually performed in one of our Sydney hospitals.