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Clinical Specialties - Cancer

Skin Cancer

Skin and Soft Tissue Tumour MDTAside from melanoma (the most dangerous form of skin cancer), there are two other types of skin cancers – basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma.  All skin cancers occur when skin cells are damaged, generally from overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

The skin cancer experts at Sydney Adventist Hospital use several methods to confirm your diagnosis and determine the stage of your disease. They have experience with early-stage as well as complex cancer; have access to advanced diagnostic tools and a wide range of treatments, including clinical trials. At the same time, our supportive clinicians help you manage side effects to support your quality of life. Explore this section to learn more about skin cancer, its side effects and your treatment options.

About skin cancer

There are three types of skin cancer – melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Both basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are known as non-melanoma skin cancers and are not likely to spread. They may require little more than minor surgery or topical treatment.  Melanoma is the more dangerous of the skin cancers.  Click here for more information on melanoma.

According to the Cancer Council of Australia, approximately two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70, with more than 750,000 people treated for one or more non-melanoma skin cancers in Australia each year. Non-melanoma skin cancer is more common in men, with almost double the incidence compared to women.

In 2015, 2162 people died from skin cancer in Australia, 1520 from melanoma and 642 from non-melanoma skin cancers.

What are the symptoms of skin cancer?

The sooner a skin cancer is identified and treated, the better your chance of avoiding surgery or, in the case of a serious melanoma or other skin cancer, potential disfigurement or even death.

Knowing what is normal for your skin can help you pick up any changes that might suggest a skin cancer.  Signs to look for are:

  • Any crusty, non-healing sores
  • Small lumps that are red, pale or pearly in colour
  • New spots, freckles or any moles changing in colour, thickness or shape over a period of weeks to months.
How is skin cancer diagnosed?

Skin cancer is normally diagnosed in a doctor or dermatologist’s rooms after patients notice a new mole on their skin or a change to an existing mole.

After this initial diagnosis, a biopsy may be performed to remove a small sample of tissue from the affected area for review by a pathologist under a microscope.

Based on these results, your integrated team of skin and soft tissue experts will use these test results to determine the stage or extent of the cancer which will largely influence the recommended treatment approach.

What are my treatment options for skin cancer?

The most common treatment for skin cancer is surgery to remove the cancer (usually under a local anaesthetic). Common skin cancers can be treated with ointments or radiotherapy. Skin cancer can also be removed with cryotherapy (using liquid nitrogen to rapidly freeze the cancer off), curettage (scraping) or cautery (burning).

The multi-disciplinary team of skin and soft tissue experts at Sydney Adventist Hospital will tailor a treatment plan based on your particular diagnosis and pathology results.

Resources and useful skin cancer links
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Sydney Adventist Hospital Clinical Specialties and Services