Treatment of skin cancer, Geelong

There are options available for the treatment of skin cancers, depending on the stage of diagnosis, the type of skin cancer, and the health and well-being of each patient. Mr Anthony McDonald is an experienced plastic surgeon who is highly experienced in the field of skin cancers.

Non-surgical treatment

Cryotherapy

  • Freezing of the lesion with liquid nitrogen.
  • The area may blister then scab in the three to four weeks following treatment.
  • Several treatments may be required to adequately treat the lesion
  • A flat white scar may result after treatment.
  • Best suited to small superficial lesions, such as solar keratoses.

Topical Chemotherapy

Five-fluorouracil cream (Efudix)

  • Usually applied twice daily for two to three weeks, or once daily for six weeks.
  • Lesions usually go red and may weep or blister.
  • Treatment best discontinued if the reaction becomes too severe.
  • Particular caution should be exercised when applying around the eyes, nose, mouth and ears.
  • Repeated or prolonged periods of treatment maybe required.
  • Usually no scarring results from the treatment.
  • Suitable in treating areas of solar keratosis, or Bowen’s disease.

Aldara (Imiquimod)

  • Only currently approved by the PBS for treating superficial basal cell carcinoma (BCCs), though it is also effective in treating solar keratosis and Bowen’s disease.
  • Cream applied five days per week for six weeks.
  • Stimulates the immune system to destroy the abnormal cells.

Photodynamic therapy

  • Involves application of a photosensitising cream.
  • A special light is then directed to the treated areas which activates the cream.
  • Can require more than one treatment with your plastic surgeon to be effective.
  • Useful in treating solar keratosis, Bowen’s disease and some skin cancers.

Curettage

  • Technique of scraping off the abnormal cells in the superficial layers of the skin with an instrument called a curette.
  • Usually performed under local anaesthetic.
  • Can use cautery to stop bleeding and to destroy any remaining abnormal cells.
  • Often leaves a flat white scar.
  • Suitable for lesions such as solar keratoses, Bowen’s disease and superficial BCCs

Radiotherapy

  • Uses x-rays to kill cancer cells.
  • Given in repeated doses over several weeks.
  • Can be used in situations where a patient is not medically fit for surgery, or where surgery has not, or cannot, completely remove the tumour.

Immunotherapy and systemic chemotherapy

  • Used predominantly in cases of advanced or widespread disease.

Surgery

Excision and direct closure

  • Suitable for small lesions.
  • Results in a straight line scar.

Flap

  • Used to repair defects too large to close directly.
  • Comprises a piece of skin which retains its blood supply.
  • Area from which it is taken is usually adjacent to, or near, where the skin lesion has been excised.
  • The place from which the flap is taken is either sutured closed, or a skin graft maybe applied.

Skin Graft

  • A piece of skin, or a shaving of skin taken to repair a defect.
  • Obtains its new blood supply from where it is placed.
  • The area from where it taken is stitched closed (if a full thickness piece), or dressed and allowed to heal like an abrasion (if a shaving).
  • Sometimes the graft does not take completely. Usually it is only an area sufficiently small enough to allow it to heal by itself with dressings.

After Surgery

Instructions will be given by our friendly nursing staff at Anthony McDonald Plastic Surgeon as to whether the wound will need to stay covered by a dressing, or if it may be left open and an ointment or Vaseline applied. We are always available if you have any concerns, so please do not hesitate to contact us. There is also a message service after hours for additional peace of mind.