We provide a meticulously thorough, full skin examination. Full skin check appointments take 30 minutes however those with an excessively large number of moles are allotted a 45 minute or hour-long appointment.
The skin check comprises of examination of the toes and toenails and an examination of the soles of the feet, the front of the lower limbs, abdomen and chest and front and sides (napes) of the neck. The patient is also requested to roll over and the entire process is repeated. It includes an examination of the toenails and feet, backs of the lower legs, thighs, buttocks and the entire back to the posterior neck, including under the hairline.
The torso examination further comprises of the examination of fingernails followed by the fingers, hands, forearms, arms and armpits (axillae). The face is also examined in detail under magnification. Lastly, the examination comprises of carefully parting the hair looking for moles and skin cancer.
While the “FULL SKIN CHECK” takes half an hour or more, we offer an immediate “SPOT CHECK” service for up to 3 or 4 moles or spots that may be concerning you.
The majority of skin cancers can simply be cut out (excised) using an elliptical excision and the resultant wound or defect sutured (stitched) together. This is performed under local anaesthetic in the operating theatre at The Melanoma Centre.
Some skin cancers cannot be easily removed using a simple excision with an ellipse. These may require a plastic surgical technique called flap surgery.
Another plastic surgical technique, grafting, may be necessary to close some wounds created by cutting out the skin cancer or melanoma. Skin grafting involves harvesting skin from a separate donor site and then transferring it to the site of the skin cancer excision (recipient site).
A biopsy is taking a sample of suspicious skin. After injecting local anaesthetic the concerning skin is either shaved (shave biopsy) similar to peeling a carrot or punched (punch biopsy) using a hollow, cylindrical tube like a tiny apple corer. The specimen is then sent to specialist pathologists for assessment and diagnosis. This is called a histology report. Unless a mole is extremely large, moles are never PARTIALLY biopsied. Where possible a mole is always COMPLETELY biopsied at The Melanoma Centre. Partial biopsy of a mole may “miss” the cancerous or malignant part of the mole and result in misdiagnosis.
Electrodessication and Curettage
Electrodessication involves using a hyfrecator to directly destroy certain types of superficial skin cancers and then removing the cancer in a scraping action with a small, spoon shaped surgical instrument known as a curette.
Sunspots and a host of benign lesions, such as skin tags, warts and age spots can be effectively removed by spraying the lesion(s) with liquid nitrogen.
Diathermy, cautery, hyfrecation, electrofulguration or electrodessication use a high frequency, low voltage electrosurgical apparatus to destroy sunspots (actinic keratosis, solar keratosis) and some types of skin cancer. In certain situations, this is preferable to skin surgery or cryocautery (see below). Cautery is also very effective in removing benign lesions, such as skin tags.
A large range of topical therapies, usually in some form of cream directly applied to the skin with or without special light(s) can be used to treat skin cancers and sunspots but NOT melanoma. The most effective are by prescription and vary with respect to efficacy, duration of application, healing time, side effects and cost. Commonly used creams are Efudix, Aldara, Metvix, Solaraze, Salicylic acid, Lactic acid, urea and Picato (derived from a milkweed plant).
Our expertise is not limited to skin checks and surgery. We are happy to discuss and welcome addressing any concerns you may have regarding your skin, skin checks, treatment options or complications.
With considerable experience in diagnosing and treating melanoma and skin cancer, we are happy to provide a second opinion if you are lacking confidence in a decision made elsewhere.
We are also happy to provide counselling for advanced skin cancer and to discuss options for further treatment. These may include referral to specialists in the fields of dermatology, plastic and reconstructive surgery, general surgery, oncology, radiation oncology, haematology and genetics. We can recommend various support agencies and networks such as Melanoma Institute Australia, Melanoma Patients Australia and Cancer Council Australia etc.
Our doctors are continuously involved in professional development and research in the field of Skin Cancer.