Ask the experts: All about skin cancer with Dr Laura Wheller

Doctor inspecting for skin cancer

Dr Laura Wheller from Ascot Dermatology is here to answer all of your questions and queries about skin cancer.

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin cells, which usually develops due to sun damage accumulated over a person’s lifetime.

Unfortunately, most Australians develop skin cancer, with approximately two in three Australians diagnosed by age 70.

They can occur anywhere on the body, but are more common in areas that have been exposed to the sun.

What are risk factors?

Most skin cancers arise due to sun exposure. They are more common in people with fair skin and a history of sun exposure and severe sunburns, particularly in childhood.

Other risk factors include solarium use, certain medical conditions, and a family history of the condition. While it most commonly affects older adults, it can also occur at any age.

What are the common types?

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer. These often look like a flesh-coloured growth, pearl-like round bump, or pink patch of skin.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type. SCC often looks like a red firm bump, scaly patch, or a sore.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can be aggressive. It can appear suddenly as a new pigmented spot on the skin, or develop as a change within a longstanding mole.

Treatment for skin cancer

Early diagnosis and treatment is essential. When detected early, skin cancer is highly curable.

If allowed to grow, skin cancers can become invasive and spread to other parts of the body. Advanced skin cancer can unfortunately be fatal.

Treatment options depend on the type of cancer and individual patient factors.

In general, skin cancers most often require surgery, but some may be treated with cryotherapy, topical medications, light-based treatments, or radiotherapy.

Regular checks with a skilled GP or dermatologist are important, especially in people with risk factors, to enable the early detection of skin cancer.

Practicing careful sun protection to prevent development and performing regular self-checks of the skin is encouraged.

To find out more about dermatology skin treatment options, visit ASCOTDERMATOLOGY.COM.AU or contact Ascot Dermatology at 07 2113 0137.

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