There are several common types of skin cancers and they behave quite differently from one another. For all patients the first stage involves arriving at a diagnosis. This may simply be based on appearance or may involve a biopsy. Mr Blake will guide you through the most appropriate path at this stage or your GP or dermatologist may have organised a biopsy for you already.
Once a diagnosis is clarified, treatment can be planned. Several different modalities are possible, some of which are surgical and some of which avoid surgery. The goals always remain curing the cancer and leaving the best possible appearance afterwards.
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer in Australia. It is usually readily cured by surgical excision and has a low rate of recurrence once completely removed. Luckily BCC never spreads and should never be life threatening. Some patients with superficial BCC are suitable for Aldara treatment (see below.)
Squamous cell carcinomas occur frequently in sun damaged skin especially on the legs, scalp and face. Their behaviour is very variable but typically small lesions (<2cm) are effectively cured with simple surgical excision. Because of their frequency on the legs reconstructive surgery with flaps or skin grafts is frequently required.
Melanoma is the most feared skin cancer because of its propensity to spread to distant parts of the body (metastasise). The risk of a melanoma is strongly related to its thickness at diagnosis, so thin tumours (<1mm) are unlikely to cause trouble once adequately treated while thick (>4mm) leasions are more risky. Mr Blake manages melanoma is conjunction with Dermatologists, Oncologists, Radiation therapists, GPs and the Victorian Melanoma Service.
Creams including Effudix and Aldara have a role in treating some types of early and thin skin disease. Neither are effective in treating advanced or thick cancers and Mr Blake will advise you on whether these non-surgical options are valuable for you. Instructions for use are provided here Effudix - Aldara
The Victorian Melanoma Servive is a multidisciplinary clinic run at the Alfred Hospital for public and private patients with melanoma. The doctors there can answer complex planning issues which arise in advanced melanoma and provide advice to individuals with early melanoma. Mr Blake works with the VMS and all melanoma patients are offered the opportunity to attend during the management of their melanoma. Click on the link provided here to find out more about the Victorian Melanoma Service .
Mr William Blake