Queensland is the skin cancer capital of the world.
According to the Queensland Cancer Council our beautiful Sunshine State sees more than 3600 diagnosed with melanoma and an estimated 350,000 people treated for non-melanoma skin cancers.
The key to managing skin cancer is to get a skin check with a clinician and put into place effective treatments and management.
Surgical excision remains the most commonly used and effective management of skin cancers.
However, there are a variety of treatment options available for sun damaged skin (solar keratosis) and pre cancerous lesions (Actinic keratosis/Bowen’s disease) that don’t involve surgery.
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These options include:
1 – Cyotherapy with liquid nitrogen
This is mainly used for solar keratosis but can also be used for low risk basal cell carcinomas and Bowen’s disease (intraepidermal carcinoma) mainly on the trunk and limbs.
It has a lower cure rate and can leave scars on the face and so is generally not recommenced for treating facial skin cancers.
2 – Topical creams
Creams are most commonly used for the treatment of precancerous lesions (solar keratosis) but can be used in the treatment of Bowen’s disease (5 per cent flurorouracil or Effudix) and superficial basal cell carcinomas (5 per cent imiquimod or Aldara).
These creams are applied twice a day for a period of four to six weeks and are best done during winter months as sun exposure needs to be avoided as much as possible.
They can produce significant inflammation of the skin which can be eased with cold compresses and steroid creams. The stronger the reaction the more efficacious the treatment.
3 – Photodynamic therapy or photo rejuvenation
This is a relatively new skin treatment system that has been approved for treatment of Bowen’s disease, solar keratosis and basal cell carcinomas (BCC’s).
PDT causes the destruction of sun damaged and aged skin cells when combined with a light sensitive produce and activated by a customised light source, replacing them with newer and healthier cells.
It may also improved mottled pigmentation, large pores and pitted acne scars.
As with the creams, inflammation of the skin can occur, but that usually settles within a week.
Only one treatment is needed for solar keratosis but repeat treatments may be needed for BCC’s and Bowen’s disease.
Non-surgical management of skin cancers can have a slightly higher chance of recurrence than surgery, but remain a good option for patients who want non-invasive management of their skin cancer with minimal side effects such as scarring and better cosmetic outcomes.
However, regular follow up is recommended every six months to guard against recurrence.
The doctors at South East Skin Clinic would be happy to discuss these options with you further and advise whether your type of skin cancer would be appropriate for treatment using non-invasive means.