• Queensland is the Skin Cancer Capital of the World.
  • Melanoma is the single most common cause of cancer deaths in Queensland.
  • MoleScreen has state of the art diagnostic and monitoring equipment.
  • We were the first Skin Cancer Clinic in Brisbane and Queensland, established in 1997.
  • We only ever operate in the patients best interest.
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Skin Cancer Treatments

Melanoma

melanoma-skin cancer treatments brisbane

melanoma

Any moles supected of being a melanoma should be totally removed and submitted to a pathologist for examination.It is called an excision biopsy where the whole mole is removed. There is no place for partial removal of a mole for diagnosis as a skin cancer treatment. Melanoma may not be present in the biopsy specimen obtained from either a shave or punch biopsy leading to the false assumption that there is no melanoma. The remaining mole is scarred and more difficult to assess in the future. There is no place for freezing or burning a mole. The correct treatment is a definitive surgical one with accompanying histological diagnosis. If a melanoma is found then the area is re-excised leaving a peripheral and deep margin that is determined by the thickness of the melanoma. There are National Guidelines that are followed when determining this.
Once a melanoma is diagnosed the patient is reviewed regularly. For the first year every three months, in the second year every six months and thereafter every twelve months. Some patients with thick advanced melanoma may be followed up every six months for life. At each visit they are examined for recurrence at the original site, the presence of secondary growths in regional lymph glands and a general skin examination as they are at risk of another new primary melanoma. Moles may be removed for examination if they are abnormal in appearance or have changed significantly. Once a melanoma has spread then a referral is made to a tertiary centre that specialises in the treatment of melanoma.

Non-melanoma skin cancer.

There are several treatment options for non-melanoma skin cancers.

Basal Cell Carcinomas (BCCs)

Surgery.

what is skin cancer - Basal Cell Carcinoma

BCC

This is almost always the best option for BCCs on or around the nose, ears and eyes where it is important to ensure complete removal. In these areas a cancer can be significantly invasive with only minimal surface changes(thin BCC’s can be treated by PDT). The skin cancer is surgically removed with an adequate clearance and the specimen submitted for histological examination. If there is insufficient clearance then a wider excision is undertaken later. Sometimes the edges of the cancer can be difficult to define and excision may occur in the presence of a pathologist who examines the specimen and indicates whether or not enough normal skin has been taken, if not a wider excision is performed before the skin is repaired. In most cases this is only done on cosmetically sensitive areas.

Radiation.

This is nearly only ever used as a follow up treatment where there is concern that a cancer may not have been completely removed, involve a nerve or blood vessel and be difficult to surgically explore; usually on the face or scalp. In some cases, particularly in the elderly, radiation is the only treatment that is considered. This might be because of frailty or infirmity where surgery would be inadvisable or too difficult.

Topical Treatments of BCCs.

Cryotherapy.

This is the use of a freezing technique using nitrogen. It often leaves scarring and a significant number of BCCs recur at the site within a few years.

Curretage.

This is where the cancer is scraped off in an attempt to remove the cancer. It is removed in fragments that allow histological diagnosis. It leaves scarring and it is common for the cancr to recur. Curettage may be done with a surgical instrument or with diathermy when there is local destruction of tissue with heat. The latter may increase scarring but reduce the risk of local recurrence.

Topical Treatments.

We recommend PDT using Metvix (Methyl AminoLevulinate (MAL)). This is applied to the skin cancer, covered with a plastic membrane and protected by an opaque dressing. After four hours the area is cleaned and a strong red light applied to the area. There is redness and swelling at the treatment site for four to five days. The treatment is repeated after two to four weeks. The patient is reviewed at three months to asses effectiveness of the treatment. This treatment is only effective for thin BCCs. Fluorouracil. Commonly known as Efudix. Applied twice daily for four to six weeks. This leads to redness and possibly ulceration and bleeding. It relies on the patient reliably applying the cream themselves. Imiquimod. Also known as Aldara. Applied daily for about four weeks. This leads to redness and possibly ulceration and bleeding. It relies on the patient reliably applying the cream themselves. Methyl AminoLevulinate (MAL). Also known as Metvix. This is applied to the skin cancer, covered with a plastic membrane and protected by an opaque dressing. After four hours the area is cleaned and a strong red light applied to the area. There is redness and swelling at the treatment site for four to five days. The treatment is repeated after two to four weeks. The patient is reviewed at three months to asses effectiveness of the treatment. This treatment is only effective for thin BCCs.

Squamous Cell Carcinomas (SCCs).

Surgery.

What is skin cancer - Squamous Cell Carcinoma

SCC

This is required for all except very early SCCs known as Bowen’s Disease. There is no place for any other treatment except for definitive surgical removal. SCCs have the potential to spread throughout the body and are responsible for a significant number of deaths each year in Australia.