Specialist in Skin Cancer and General Dermatology
What is involved in a skin check?
A skin check by a dermatologist is more than just looking. It involves a full history of skin cancer risk, skin care advice, addressing spots of concern and a systematic exam of all body parts with particular attention to sun-exposed sites. Whilst we cannot undo the damage from sun exposure in the past, early detection is your best protection.
Mohs Micrographic Surgery (Mohs Surgery)
Mohs Micrographic Surgery, performed by a fellowship-trained member of the American
College of Mohs Surgery, is an advanced treatment for skin cancer that offers the highest cure
rate - even if the skin cancer has been previously treated by another procedure. Mohs
Micrographic Surgery is a state-of-the-art treatment in which the physician serves as surgeon,
pathologist and reconstructive surgeon. It relies on the ability of a microscope to trace out and
ensure removal of the skin cancer's roots. This procedure allows physicians who have
completed a fellowship in Mohs surgery to see beyond the visible disease and to precisely
identify and remove the entire tumour, leaving healthy tissue intact and unharmed. Mohs surgery is
most often used to treat two of the most common forms of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma and
squamous cell carcinoma, however it is also an effective treatment for other types of skin cancer.
Western Skin Institute is the only Mohs unit in Western Victoria where the Mohs Surgeon
has been accredited by the American College of Mohs Surgery (ACMS)
The general public, particularly those aged 40 and over, should be encouraged to check all areas of their skin, including skin not normally exposed to the sun. Look for changes in shape, colour or size of a pigmented lesion or a new lesion regularly (every three months).
Individuals who spend most of their occupation outdoors should be encouraged to regularly check their skin for suspicious spots. It is important that individuals know what their skin looks like normally so changes will be noticed.
The skin contains 3 different types of cells: squamous cells, basal cells and melanocytes. Skin cancers are named after the type of cell from which they start. The 3 main types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common but least dangerous type of skin cancer. About 75% of skin cancers in Australia are basal cell carcinomas. They grow slowly over months or years and very rarely spread to other parts of the body.
However if they are not treated, they may form an ulcer (a break in the surface of the skin) and cause damage to tissue and organs nearby for instance, the eyelids or nose.
Squamous cell carcinomas are less common than basal cell carcinomas but are potentially more dangerous. They grow more quickly, usually over weeks or months and may spread to nearby lymph nodes or other parts of the body if not treated promptly.
They occur most often (but not only) on the head, neck, hands and forearms.
Melanoma develops in the melanocytes. It can occur anywhere on the body. It may grow quickly and, if it is not treated, may spread to other parts of the body to form new, secondary cancers.