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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How is skin cancer treated?

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  • 3

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    Dr Jillian Tomlinson

    Hand Surgeon, Plastic Surgeon (Reconstructive & Cosmetic)

    Dr Jill Tomlinson is a fully qualified plastic, reconstructive and hand surgeon. After graduating dux in her year at University High School, Jill completed medical ... View Profile

    Great question - and the answer is “it depends”. The treatment of skin cancer is influenced by the type of skin cancer, the location and size of the skin cancer and factors relating to the patient - not all patients are the same so there is no single answer!

    Skin cancers can be excised (cut out surgically), treated with dry ice, curetted (scraped away surgically) and treated with topical creams. It may be necessary to have a flap or skin graft to reconstruct the area that the skin cancer has been removed from. Whether this is necessary or not usually depends on the size of the skin cancer - larger skin cancers are more likely to need flaps or grafts.

    Patients who have a melanoma may have a sentinel node biopsy or surgery to the lymph nodes as part of their treatment. Lymph node surgery may also be required in the treatment of advanced squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). This surgery is not required for the majority of Australian patients with skin cancer - if you have questions about these treatments please ask your doctor.

    I've placed more information about the treatment of specific skin cancers at my website in case you would like more detail. I hope this helps!

  • 2

    Thanks

    Mr Stephen Salerno

    Plastic Surgeon (Reconstructive & Cosmetic)

    Plastic, Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgery Hand Surgery Skin cancer and melanoma surgery Breast Surgery View Profile

    Skin cancer can have several modalities of treatment.  The main modalities are surgical or non surgical. Surgery is obvious and they are removed by cutting out the lesion.  This is not always necessay and some cancers can be treated by non surgical means such as cryotherapy, scrapping or by immune modulator creams like Imiquimod or 5 Flurouracil creams. The choice of treatment will often depend on the type of skin cancer it is and also on the aggressiveness of the skin cancer which is often found out on a biopsy of the lesion.

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