Mr Anand Ramakrishnan is a Plastic, Reconstructive & Craniofacial Surgeon who provides skin cancer surgery at St Vincent's Private Hospital Melbourne. In this article he describes the different types of skin cancers and their treatments and what to look out for.
"Australians are the world leaders in growing, and thankfully in treating, skin cancers which can be broadly divided into Melanomas and Non-melanoma Skin cancers (NMSC). The latter are the commonest cancers in Australia, with Basal Cell Cancer (BCC) being over twice as common as Squamous Cell cancer (SCC). Melanomas are the 3rd most common cancers in Australia with over 16,000 cases predicted for 2020. While most BCC and SCC presentations are early, with localised disease which is easy to treat more delayed presentations can be associated with advanced disease requiring more invasive surgery and a smaller likelihood of disease control.
The most effective way to avoid developing a skin cancer is to minimise exposure to direct sunlight from childhood, especially in the summer months when the Ultraviolet (UV) rating is high, by covering up with a high Skin Protection Factor (SPF) clothing and sunscreen. Self surveillance of the skin is a good way to ensure you don’t miss any new lesions on your body and any new, symptomatic or changing lesion that persists more than 6 weeks should be assessed by your Doctor. All darkly coloured new lesions, any raised, bleeding or itchy lesion, any lesion that feels sore and won’t heal or any lesion that worries you should also be assessed, especially if they are changing (getting bigger for example). I would recommended that all fair skinned adults have an annual skin check given our high incidence of skin cancer. GP’s are expert at diagnosing and managing skin cancers, and you should seek your GP first if you have a skin concern. Some patients also choose to see Dermatologists, GP’s in skin clinics, and Plastic Surgeons for their skin checks. Your Doctor will typically perform a clinical assessment by asking about and carefully examining your skin, and some may use tools such as dermatoscopy (a special magnifying scope) to better assess your skin. While many lesions can be defined in this way some others will need to be biopsied or cut out.
More recent developments in skin cancer include the use of anti-cancer creams such as Imiquomod to treat pre-cancerous lesions such as solar keratosis and even early non-invasive cancer such as superficial BCC. The development of a new generation of drugs (immunotherapy) means that some melanomas which have spread inside the body can now be effectively treated, as can locally advanced SCC’s especially of the Head and Neck".
Mr Anand Ramakrishnan
Niche Plastic Surgery
15 Princess St, Kew, VIC, 3101
03 9853 9705
Anand has a fellowship in Microsurgery through the Bernard O’Brien Institute of Microsurgery as well as a Doctorate of Medicine for work on Stem Cell biology through the University of Melbourne. He is a member of Interplast Australia and New Zealand and devotes time each year to performing reconstructive surgery through the Asia Pacific region. He has a Master of Public Health in International and Refugee Health through the McFarlane Burnett School of Public Health, Monash University.
Anand is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), International Member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons