Skin Cancer

There are various types of skin cancer, with the commonest type being basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and Melanoma. These are often (but not exclusively) related to sun-exposure. (Note: Melanoma is described in a separate section).

SCC and BCC can occur throughout the body and is more commonly found in sun-exposed area. Incidence of spread to other parts of the body is uncommon. BCC in particular tends to gradually enlarge and if left untreated, may become locally destructive. Excision of SCC and BCC is often achievable with a straightforward excision and primary closure. With larger lesions, especially in areas where skin movement is limited, a local flap procedure or skin graft may be necessary. This is often performed by the surgeon under local anaesthetic with the option of sedation if required. Using the appropriate surgical option will ensure removal of the skin cancer with adequate margins and optimal aesthetic outcome.

After surgery, a waterproof dressing is applied and the patient advised to avoid excessive pressure or friction over the area. The waterproof dressing is usually removed after 7 days and the surgeon will advise on the appropriate timing for suture removal which can range from 7 to 14 days or longer, depending on the tightness of the wound closure. A skin graft, when applied, is usually dressed with several layers of dressing and bandaging to avoid any movement or friction over the skin graft itself. Alternatively, a vacuum dressing may be applied over the skin graft. These dressing are usually removed on day 5 by the surgeon so that the skin graft can be inspected. Appropriate dressing is then reapplied.

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