Removing Skin Cancers

About 1 in 2 Australians will develop at least one skin cancer in their lifetime.Australia has the highest incidence of melanomas (the REALLY dangerous skin cancer) in the world. This is due to our exposure to intense sunlight as children and young adults (all those days spent at the beach, on the cricket oval or tennis court!)

Skin cancers are preventable but when they occur it's best to recognize them when they are very small. Then it's relatively easy to have them removed before they have invaded deeply and spread through the blood stream and lymphatic circulation to other parts of the body or before they have become so large that their removal causes nasty scarring or deformity.

In most instances skin cancers can be removed by the doctors in this clinic under local anæsthetic. It in only on rare occasions when patients are referred on to have their surgery performed under general anæsthetic by a plastic surgeon.

The doctors at the Lyttleton Street Medical Clinic have had many years experience of removing skin cancers and the results they consistently achieve are very satisfying for patients. There are many patients who proudly comment on how the scars left after removal of skin cancers are virtually invisible!

Before skin cancers are removed, digital photographs are taken of the offending lesion; the photographs are saved onto the computers and then linked to the patient's computerised medical record for easy retrieval in the future. All removed skin lesions are sent to be analysed by a pathologist (at St Vincent's hospital) and this allows the diagnosis to be confirmed as well as certainty that all of the skin cancer was removed. Sometimes skin cancers can grow under the skin and it is then possible for even a highly experienced doctor to leave some behind so that there is a risk that it will recur! For this reason it is important to get a pathologist to examine the block of removed tissue to get confirmation that the skin cancer has been completely removed.

When skin cancers and other "lumps and bumps" are removed, the resulting defect in the skin is then closed with sutures of nylon which cannot dissolve. These suture are usually removed 6 or 7 days later in order that the sutures don't leave individual scars from being left in place too long. Also the longer they remain in the skin the greater becomes the risk of wound infection. Removing the sutures is usually quite painless and, because wound healing is not yet complete after only 6-7 days, the wound may be supported with medical adhesive tapes and an overlying waterproof dressing. This minises the risk that the wound will be accidentally pulled open again before it has completely healed.

Removing skin cancers takes time and requires meticulous work if the wound is to leave a satisfactory scar in the future. For this reason appointments for the purpose of removing skin lesions are always for at least 30 minutes and must be planned after discussion with your doctor.