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SKIN LESIONS

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Skin Lesions

Skin Lesions

Skin lesions include moles or naevi, vascular malformations and haemangiomas (birthmarks) and giant congenital naevi.

Surgery may consist of simple excision and closure or more advanced reconstruction including serial excision, tissue expansion, grafting or flap repair.

BENIGN SKIN CONDITIONS

Solar keratoses

Also known as sunspots, these are red, scaly areas that occur in sun exposed areas. Although benign, these can occasionally progress to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). The presence of a solar keratosis is an indication that the skin is badly damaged and should be monitored for the development of further skin lesions.

Keratoacanthoma (KA)

This is a rapidly growing tumour that looks very similar to an SCC. The only definite way to determine it is not an SCC is to look at it under a microscope. A KA does not spread around the body, but may occasionally recur locally.

NON MELANOTIC SKIN CANCER

There are 2 types of this form of cancer: basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).

BCC

This forms about 75% of skin cancer. It typically grows slowly over a period of weeks to months. If left untreated it forms a non – healing ulcer. It was originally known as a “rodent” ulcer as it slowly gnaws away at adjacent tissues and structures. It rarely spreads to other regions.

BCC usually occurs on sun exposed areas as a small round lump or an ulcer. It is usually red or pale and pearly in colour. Small blood vessels may be noticeable on its surface.

SCC

SCC is more rapidly growing than BCC. It is associated with prolonged exposure to sunlight. SCC is potentially more serious than BCC as it has a risk of spreading to other parts of the body.

SCC looks like a red, scaly spot. It can bleed easily and may ulcerate.

Melanoma

Melanoma can be treated successfully if diagnosed early. Only about 1 in 20 people with skin cancer will have a melanoma.

About half of melanomas develop in existing moles, the other half develop as a new lesion. Melanomas can form on any part of the body, including areas that are not exposed to the sun.

Prevention of Skin Cancer

The following may help reduce the chance of further skin cancers:

  1. Avoidance of the sun between 10am and 3pm, when it is most intense.
  2. Wear a wide brimmed hat.
  3. Wear UV protection sunglasses.
  4. Wear a long sleeved top or shirt, and long pants, both of tightly woven cotton.
  5. Use an SPF 30 sunscreen. Apply a thick layer, and apply regularly particularly if swimming.
  6. Wear protective swimwear.
  7. Avoid tanning booths.

Diagnosis

The symptoms of itch or bleeding are very suggestive of melanoma.

The signs that a mole may be developing into a melanoma are:

Asymmetry: Or a highly irregular shape.

Borders: A melanoma tends to have an irregular, ragged edge.

Colour: Melanomas tend to have different shades of brown and occasionally blue and black.

Diameter: More than 6 mm is suspicious of a melanoma.

Elevation: Of the lesion from the skin surface level.

Suspicious Looking Spots

Ensure any suspicious or unusual looking skin spots are checked. Look out for:

  1. A new spot that looks different to the surrounding spots.
  2. A sore that does not heal.
  3. A mole, spot or freckle that has changed in size, shape or colour or one that itches or bleeds.

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