I haven't been out in the sun too much and I use sun screen. Should I still be concerned?
While sun protection is necessary to prevent non melanoma skin cancers (Basal cell carcinoma and Squamous cell carcinoma), Melanoma can develop regardless of sun exposure. Evidence now confirms that sun light UV is not associated with Melanoma as was thought before. It is not uncommon to find a Melanoma on areas that may not have had any sun exposure such as the buttocks or between the toes. As we now know that it can be a genetic trait.
On the other hand, skin damage by the sun UV light is chronic and cumulative. Therefore, cancers that arise now are generally due to the UV exposed in the past. While the use of sunscreen is necessary to reduce further damage, it can't change the past damages within the DNA of skin cells. Unfortunately sunscreen is not always used correctly and need to reapply frequently and more often than once daily
What is the next if it confirms that I have got a skin cancer?
Fortunately majority of skin cancers can be treated under local anaesthesia by either ablation or excision. We have got a dedicated operating room on site with special equipment enabling us to perform majority of skin plastic surgeries, flaps and skin grafts within the surgery.
If your doctor believes that a higher level of treatment or care is needed the patient will be referred to tertiary services e.g. skin cancer plastic surgeon, oncologist or radiotherapy.
What happens if I find have any suspicious mole or other skin lesions?
If your doctor can not rule out a malignant lesion and find it unsuitable for follow up the next step is generally taking a biopsy. That means based on the size, location and type of the lesion the whole or part of the lesion is excised and sent for pathology to be checked under microscope. This is done under local anaesthesia and is completely painless. Some patients may become anxious about injection. There are some ways that you can discuss with your doctor in such circumstances.
Will I lose my face if having surgery?
There is a common concern and belief that surgical procedures on the face can cause dis-figuration. This is especially frightening when it comes to lesions on the nose, lips and eyelids when compared to the rest of the face. While having a scar is unavoidable, it is more often less noticeable than the original lesion itself.
Do all skin cancer looks like a very dark mole?
Against the general belief most skin cancers are non or only partially pigmented. They may look pink, light brown, blue or skin coloured. They can even present like a small mosquito bite, or a raised or flat lesion.
I don't have any new lesion and the lesion I have got I've had ages. Do I still need to have them checked? What about the dry spots?
Same as all other malignancies, cancers change can be gradual and may even take a years to be clinically noticeable. This is particularly seen in SCCs and Melanomas arising in a previously benign sun spots (dry spot) or moles. Early detection of these are mostly impossible with unarmed eyes and without the help of Dermoscopy, specialised medical equipment designed to detect such cancers.
I don't have any abnormal lesions on my body do I still need a check?
Worldwide only up to 50% of skin cancers are found by patients, our experience indications are much less. Majority of patients are not aware of cancers and are surprised when they are advised they have a skin cancer. Especially when they thought the lesion was just a mole. Most of skin cancers look innocent and are asymptomatic.
Do I need a referral letter?
No referral is required for Medicare benefits, though it helps your treating doctor if you have any active medical condition, taking medication and in particular you had history of skin cancer surgeries.