What types of skin cancer are there?
There are two main types of skin cancer – melanoma and non-melanoma.
Non-melanoma skin cancers include basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).
Both BCC and SCC will vary in their appearance. A BCC is often first noticed as a lump, an area of discoloured skin or an area of skin that bleeds, scabs over but never heals. Sometimes BCC’s can be itchy, but they may not be painful. An SCC may be crusty or scaly in appearance, with a red base. SCC’s may also bleed, scab over and refuse to heal. Unlike the BCC an SCC may be painful.
All types of skin cancer will need treatment. If skin cancer is left untreated it can spread and cause cancer cells elsewhere, therefore it is best to get suspicious looking spots checked and treated early.
Steps to take if you have a suspicious spot on your skin
The first step is to make an appointment to see Dr McMillan in his private rooms at Fernbrae House, Dunedin or in Invercargill to review the area of concern.
Dr McMillan will use a small magnifying device called a dermatoscope. The dermatoscope enables a close-up view of the area, allowing Dr McMillan to clearly see the suspicious area of concern and determine whether skin cancer might be the cause.
Depending on the findings with the dermatoscope Dr McMillan will discuss treatment options and you will together decide on the next steps.
Treatments available for non-melanoma skin cancer
Surgical excision is the primary treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer.
A procedure called a wide local excision will be performed to remove the skin cancer. The purpose is to make a cut that is wide enough to remove the whole area of concern, making sure there are no cancerous cells left behind in the skin.
Depending on the site and/or size of skin cancer to be removed you may need to have a skin graft or flap to repair the area. This skin may be skin adjacent to the area removed (a flap repair) or skin from another part of your body may be used. This will be discussed during your consultation prior to surgery.
Surgical excision of skin cancer can be done under local or general anaesthetic and is usually a day surgery procedure. This will be performed either at Fernbrae House or Mercy Hospital in Dunedin.
Once the skin cancer BCC or SCC have been surgically cut out sutures will be placed and a dressing applied. The removed skin cancer will be sent for testing.
If the whole skin cancer was captured during the surgical excision, no more action is needed.
Regular skin checks are recommended as well as returning to Dr McMillan if you find any skin changes. Dr McMillan can discuss this with you after your procedure and organise yearly reviews at Fernbrae House or in Invercargill.
There may be some tenderness to the surgical site. Depending on the site and size of the wound you may have some restrictions to your movements for a short period of time.
Risks and complications
As with all surgical procedures there are risks and potential complications with any skin cancer treatment.
Dr McMillan will discuss all of these with you during your consultation and answer your questions.
Non-melanoma surgery cost
There is a cost for non-melanoma skin cancer treatment done privately. The exact figure will depend on a range of factors but generally the cost is between $1,100 and $1,800.
If you have a suspicious looking skin change take prompt action to ensure any skin cancer is treated early. Get in contact to make an initial consultation with Dr McMillan about non-melanoma skin cancer treatment.