Skin Cancer Surgery in Auckland New Zealand by Dr Mark Gittos Plastic Surgeon
Skin cancer is a common type of cancer that can happen to anyone. The cancer occurs when the cells forming our skin grow abnormally in an uncontrolled fashion. It happens most commonly in the face, neck, arms, and hands – areas that are usually exposed to sunlight, however, it can occur in any other part of your body. The most common types are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Melanoma often presents as a black skin lesion with irregular edges and a patchy coloured surface. It may also be raw and fleshy and rapidly enlarging.
Regular checkups and “Mole Mapping” is a good way to detect moles that have changed for the worse or new suspicious skin lesions.
Skin Cancer surgery is the most common way to treat and remove skin cancer. There are various techniques, each dictated by the size and type of the growth. It is important to note that Melanoma is an uncommon but serious skin cancer that is best detected and treated early. Surgery remains the cornerstone of treatment, and it can be combined with other forms of therapy. Dr. Mark Gittos in Auckland, New Zealand offers surgery, treatment and evaluation. Dr. Mark is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon and is well known in his field.
Watch Dr Mark Gittos talk about skin Health at NZ Skin Health
Symptoms of different types of Cancers
Skin cancer can happen anywhere on your body, but it’s most frequently seen in the areas of your skin most exposed to the sun, like your face, ears, neck, chest, arms, and hands.
It can happen to anyone regardless of their skin color or tone.
Although different types of skin cancers do share some common features, the appearance and behavior of the skin lesion usually differ:
● Basal cell carcinoma (BCC): This type has a predilection to sun-exposed areas of the skin. The skin lesion is usually flesh-colored but can range between pink and brown. Doctors describe it as “waxy” or “pearly”, and it can become scaly or even bleed. If you have an open sore on your skin that keeps on healing and re-bleeding, it might be basal cell carcinoma.
● Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC): This type of skin cancer is also more frequent in areas like the face, neck, chest, arms, and hands. In darker-skinned individuals, SCC tends to be more common in other areas that are not exposed to the sun. It can appear as a flat lesion that scales and crusts or as a red nodule.
● Melanoma: Melanoma can occur in already existing moles, or as a new lesion anywhere on your body. In men, it tends to happen on the skin of the face or trunk. In women, it’s more likely to occur in the skin of the legs. In people with darker skin, it’s likely to occur on the palms, soles, or under the fingernails. Melanoma should be suspected if you have any skin lesion that is changing size, color, shape, has irregular borders, a non-homogeneous color, or bleeds in some parts.
● Other types of skin cancer: Other less frequent types of skin cancer, such as Kaposi sarcoma, Merkel cell carcinoma, and sebaceous gland carcinoma have a variable appearance and can range from irregular patches to firm painful or painless nodules.
You should consider seeking medical attention if you notice a new skin growth that looks worrying or if an old mole starts changing or becomes painful.
Risk factors to avoid if possible
Doctors have identified a few factors that put you at risk of developing skin cancer:
● Lighter skin color: Although skin cancer can happen to anyone regardless of their skin tone or color, people with lighter skin color are at higher risk since they are more vulnerable to the damaging effect of ultraviolet rays in sunlight
● Sunburns: People who have a history of sunburns earlier in life are more likely to develop skin cancer as adults
● Excessive exposure to sunlight: Ultraviolet rays in sunlight can be damaging to the skin, so people who spend excessive amounts of time in sunlight without any protection (sunscreen) are at higher risk of developing skin cancer
● Moles (nevi): Skin cancer is more likely to develop in people who have a large number of moles which can harbor cancerous or pre-cancerous cells
● A history of skin cancer: People who have a personal or family history of skin cancer are at higher risk
● Radiation exposure: This includes radiation treatment to certain medical conditions
● Chemical exposure: certain chemical exposures, such as arsenic exposure, can increase the risk of developing skin cancer
Diagnosis of Skin Cancer
Your doctor will start by asking you a few questions about your health and the skin lesion that’s concerning you. He or she will then examine the lesion to determine its characteristics, and will then examine the rest of your skin to check for other suspicious lesions. In some cases, a biopsy (a small piece of tissue) will be removed and sent to the lab to confirm the nature of the skin lesion.
In certain cases, if skin cancer is confirmed, your doctor might order further tests to make sure the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body or to the lymph nodes. These tests include imaging (like a CT or MRI scan), and they can help determine the stage of the disease. Basal cell carcinoma is less likely to spread, so these tests are usually reserved for other types of skin cancer.
Your Treatment Options
There are several skin cancer treatment options available, and your doctor will choose one or more modalities depending on the size, depth, type, and extent of the spread of cancer. The initial skin biopsy is sometimes enough to remove the whole lesion if it’s small and no further treatment will be required. Some of the available treatment options include:
● Surgical excision: Dr. Mark will remove the skin lesion surgically. He will inject a local anesthetic around the tumor so that you won’t feel any pain, and then perform a skin incision using a surgical knife. He will then cut out the tumor, and suture your skin in a way that ensures minimal scarring.
● Freezing (cryosurgery): If you have a small cancerous or precancerous skin lesion (actinic keratoses), Dr. Mark might use liquid nitrogen to freeze the lesion and kill the abnormal cells.
● Mohs surgery: This skin cancer surgery is reserved for areas where your doctor wants to preserve as much skin as possible, like your nose. During Mohs skin cancer surgery, Dr. Mark will remove the tumor in very thin layers, and examine each layer in the lab to see where the cancer cells stop. By doing this, he avoids removing an excessive amount of normal skin.
● Radiation therapy: In certain cases, radiation therapy might be needed to kill off the remaining skin cancer cells. Radiation therapy means the use of high energy beams to kill abnormal cells.
● Chemotherapy: This can be either in the form of topical creams or as a systemic regimen
● Photodynamic therapy – PDT: It’s a form of therapy that combines the use of certain drugs along with laser treatment to kill cancer cells
● Biological therapy: These are drugs that stimulate your body’s immune cells to attack the tumoral cells
Skin cancer can be adequately treated if discovered early. If you have a skin lesion that’s concerning you, make sure to ask your doctor about it. Dr. Mark Gittos in Auckland, New Zealand is a specialist plastic and cosmetic surgeon. He treats different types of skin conditions, including skin cancer. He’s one of the top physicians offering skin cancer treatment in Auckland, New Zealand. Give us a call to learn more about your conditions, or take an appointment to get a full evaluation by Dr. Mark Gittos
Skin Cancer Surgery procedure with Dr Gittos
Small cancers are usually removed using a simple surgical process. Your surgeon will remove the lesion and also some normal surrounding skin to make sure that the cancer is fully gone. There will be some stitches, which can be removed after a week to 14 days, although your surgeon may use dissolving stitches that won’t have to be taken out.
With larger or spreading tumours, it can be necessary to remove a larger area of skin, which may mean that you need a skin graft or skin flap. These special Plastic Surgical techniques are used to ensure complete removal of the skin cancer and to return the patient’s normal appearance and function.
Alternatives to skin surgeries include curettage and electrocautery-scraping away the cancer cells and using electrical heat to prevent bleeding.
In simple cases, these techniques may offer a safe means of removing the minimum of healthy tissue whilst effectively removing skin cancer.
Freezing with liquid nitrogen and the use of anti-skin cancer creams such as Aldara and or Effudix may also be effective non-surgical skin cancer treatments.
Minor procedures are usually done using local anaesthetic and you will be able to go home the same day. Larger operations involving a skin graft or flap would mean a longer stay in hospital.
Recovery After Treatment by Dr Gittos
When you return home, the wound will have a surgical dressing and we will make sure you know how to take care of the area as you recover.
Further Reading – Medical Sources Sources:
Your Patient Journey