Skin Cancer Clinic
Skin Cancer Clinic
This practice recommends daily usage of Ultra MD Protective Daily Shield Mineral Defence SPF 50+. It is available at our practice.
Wamuran Doctors provide our own dedicated Skin Cancer Clinic. The practice objectives are to provide patients with the services below in a primary setting.
- Early Detection
There are two main types of skin cancers:
Non-melanoma skin cancer
Non-melanoma skin cancer refers to a group of skin cancers that affect the upper layers of skin. The term ‘non-melanoma’ distinguishes these generally more common types of skin cancer from the less common, but more aggressive skin cancer known as melanoma. Types of NMSC include Actinic Keratoses (or “AK”, but also known as sun spots or solar keratoses), and the two most common cancers in the world, Basal Cell Carcinoma (“BCC”) and Squamous Cell Carcinoma (“SCC”). The incidence of NMSC varies widely around the world, with the highest rates in Australia and the lowest rates in parts of Africa. Exposure to UV-light from natural or artificial sources is a main factor causing NMSC.
Melanoma is a less common but more dangerous type of cancer that begins in the skin and can spread to other organs in the body. It is the 19th most common cancer worldwide and is estimated to be responsible for almost 200,000 new cases of cancer each year. The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole. Melanoma occurs when pigment cells in the skin begin to develop abnormally. It is not known exactly why this happens but it is thought that exposure of UV light from natural or artificial sources may be partly responsible.
What is skin cancer?
Actinic keratoses appear as small pink or red spots with a rough surface. They may be more easily felt than seen. They are a very common skin complaint and they occur more frequently with increasing age. Actinic keratoses usually appear on UV exposed skin areas such as the face, ears, scalp, neck, décolleté, backs of hands, forearms and lips.
Squamous cell carcinomas
Squamous cell carcinomas can look similar to basal cell carcinomas (see below), but are usually more scaly and stand out further from the surface of the skin. Squamous cell carcinomas often occur on the head and neck, and other UV exposed areas such as the ears, lips and the back of hands and arms.
Basal cell carcinomas
Basal cell carcinomas usually appear as small, pink or reddish bumps, nodules, patches, spots or scars. They are most often found in UV exposed areas of the skin but can also be found on other skin areas such as the trunk.
The appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole can happen anywhere on the body, but most often on the back, legs, arms and face. In most cases, melanomas have an irregular shape and have more than one colour. They may also be larger than normal moles and can sometimes be itchy or bleed.
The “ABCD” checklist is a useful way to help you tell the difference between a normal mole and a melanoma.
A – stands for asymmetrical – melanomas have two very different halves and are an irregular shape.
B – stands for (irregular) border – unlike a normal mole, melanomas have a notched or ragged border.
C – stands for (two or more) colours – melanomas will be a mix of two or more colours.
D – stands for dynamics – evolution in colors, elevation or size.
If you are concerned about one of your moles, see your doctor as soon as possible.
What does skin cancer look like?
An AK spot begins in the top layer of the skin – the epidermis. The epidermis is as thin as a pencil line, and it provides a protective layer of skin cells that your body continually sheds. Normally, skin cells within the epidermis develop in a controlled and orderly way. Usually, healthy new cells push older cells toward the skin surface, where they die and eventually are sloughed off. When skin cells are damaged by UV radiation, changes occur in the skin‘s texture and colour, causing blotchiness and bumps or lesions.
Although some AK lesions may spontaneously return to normal skin, it is important that AK spots are detected and treated – left untreated they may develop into the more serious form, SCC. The good news is that AK spots can be safely and effectively treated.
Squamous cell carcinoma
The most common cause of SCC is too much exposure to UV light which can cause certain cells (called keratinocytes) in the epidermis layer of the skin to grow out of control and to develop into a tumour. They can also develop from AK spots. If treated early SCC is curable, but if left untreated the tumour can invade deeply and spread throughout the body. So it is vitally important that you take measures to help prevent SCC from developing.
Basal cell carcinoma
BCC arises from cells in the basal layer or in the outer root sheath of the hair follicle. One major risk factor for BCC is exposure to UV light, which can damage the DNA in the basal cells. If left untreated the area will begin to open, bleed or crust over repeatedly. Basal cell carcinomas grow slowly and rarely spread to other parts of the body. Left untreated, BCCs can severely damage the surrounding skin area.
Melanoma develops when normal pigment-producing skin cells called melanocytes become abnormal, grow uncontrollably, and invade surrounding tissues. Usually only one melanoma develops at a time. Although melanomas can begin in an existing mole or other skin growth, most start in unmarked skin. If untreated, melanoma cells will spread throughout the body. It is vitally important to detect melanoma as early as possible. Exposure to UV light may be partly responsible for the development of melanomas.
How does skin cancer develop?
UV exposure, the immune system and skin cancer
Exposure to UV light is a main factor causing non-melanoma skin cancer. UV light directly harms skin cells and also damages the skin ́s immune system. Normally the skin ́s immune system easily recovers, but for people with a compromised immune system this process might be too slow.
This increases the risk for developing skin cancer. People with a weak immune system or those with a history of skin cancer are at particular risk and should protect themselves from UV light.
Ultraviolet light may be delivered from natural or artificial sources. The sun emits different types of UV light, including ultraviolet A (UVA; long-wave) and ultraviolet B (UVB; short-wave) rays. Both UVA and UVB reach the earth and play an important role in premature skin aging, eye damage (including cataracts) and certain skin cancers. It is important to know that 90% of the UV light penetrates through clouds, so people at risk need to protect themselves every day, whatever the weather.
Protecting your skin from UV exposure
Protection from UV exposure can mean prevention of skin cancer. So it is important to keep in mind that, particularly for people with an increased risk for skin cancer, stringent UV avoidance is necessary throughout the year. UV exposure should be avoided during all seasons of the year (from spring to winter) and even on cloudy days. Here are some of the best things you can do to help stay skin-safe:
Wear protective, densely woven or UV proof clothing, including long-sleeved shirts and trousers, UV proof sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat. On all remaining exposed areas such as scalp, face, neck and back of hands, liberally apply a medical UV protection such as Ultra MD Protective Daily Shield Mineral Defence SPF 50+ every morning, every day and throughout the year. Plan outdoor activities to avoid exposure to UV light between 10 am and 4 pm, when UV radiation is strongest. Tanning booths and sun beds further enhance the skin cancer risk and should be strictly avoided.
Ultra MD Protective Daily Shield Mineral Defence SPF 50+
This is a physical sunscreen which means it contains titanium oxide and zinc giving a physical barrier to the sun unlike a chemical sunscreen. Ultra MD Protective Daily Shield Mineral Defence SPF 50+ is $69.