Dermatologic and laser surgery
All our dermatologists have extensive experience in dermatologic skin surgery. Your specialist will discuss with you the best options for management of skin cancers or non-cancerous lumps and bumps that you may wish to have removed. This may include surgical excision, various other surgery procedures, non-surgical options, or laser surgery. The onsite erbium laser can be a very good option for removal of benign skin lesions and some superficial skin cancers, rapidly and with excellent cosmetic results.
It is critical you make the correct decision in deciding on your skin surgeon.
Long before the surgery, you need an accurate assessment of the skin lesion of concern - whether it is likely to be benign or cancerous affects whether the lesion needs to be removed for medical or cosmetic reasons.
If the lesion is malignant, your dermatologist will discuss the pathology (science) and behaviour of your specific condition. The term skin cancer covers a wide variety of different diagnoses and prognoses (outcomes) and careful consideration of this will guide you to the best management strategy. There is often a specific surgical technique that is best matched with the tumour, or there may a non-surgical option to be considered. Mohs micrographic surgery is just one example of the highly specialised treatment options available at Auckland Skin & Cancer Foundation. The correct choice, and careful performance, of the procedure or treatment is critical to achieve an optimal outcome from a curative, functional, and aesthetic perspective.
Our specialist dermatologists are best placed to help you in this decision and perform your chosen procedure.
Types of skin cancer
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
The most common type of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma (BCC). It is particularly common in New Zealand because of our intense environmental UV exposure, temperate climate, and outdoor lifestyle. There are a number of microscopic subtypes of BCC. This, along with their anatomical location, and patient-specific factors, determines the most appropriate treatment options. One BCC is not necessarily the same as another BCC. To read more information outlining BCC and possible treatment options, see Dermnet NZ.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
This is the second most common type of skin cancer especially in fair-skinned New Zealanders. SCC are first classified as either superficial or invasive. Invasive SCC is then grouped by histological differentiation (how abnormal the cancer cells look under the microscope). Again, the anatomical site, tumour size, and other factor such as the immune-status of the affected person are important considerations. SCC can spread away from the skin to other parts of the body more readily than BCC. For more see Dermnet NZ.
Melanoma is generally the most feared of the top three most common skin cancers. The good news is that, like BCC and SCC, there are a number of different subtypes of melanoma. The most early and superficial subtype, has a very good prognosis if it is treated early and with the correct technique. As with any cancer, having a high level of awareness, getting checked early, and getting the correct treatment (almost always surgical for melanoma) promptly will provide the very best possible outcomes. For more see Dermnet NZ.
Less common skin cancer
The above three types account for the majority of skin malignancies seen in New Zealand. However there is a long list of more rare skin cancers that may occur. These can sometimes be very subtle and difficult to pick from benign skin changes. Your dermatologist is trained in these cancers also. Examples include: Merkel cell carcinoma, Atypical fibroxanthoma, Microcytic adnexal carcinoma, Cutaneous lymphoma, Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans.
Can I prevent skin cancer?
Research tells us that careful sun-protection with clothing, shade, and sunscreen definitely reduces the risk of skin cancer regardless of how you have treated your skin in the past. Having a high awareness of skin cancer, performing regular self-skin examinations, and consulting your dermatologist are other important factors in your preventative strategy.
There are various medical treatments available to assist in preventing pre-cancerous changes progressing to skin cancer. Over half of squamous cell carcinoma are thought to arise from within an actinic keratosis (a very common precancerous scaly area often seen on the face and lower arms and hands). The dermatologists at Auckland Skin & Foundation offer a number of different medical treatments including the very latest light-based procedure to effectively treat and remove these precancerous lesions.
Even for those experiencing multiple non-melanoma skin cancers on a regular basis, there are oral medicines they may be appropriate, and can substantially reduce the number of new cancers.
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