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SKIN CANCER SERIES: PART 4 - EARLY DETECTION VITAL

Melanoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Basal Cell Carcinoma

New Zealand has some of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world and these account for approximately 80% of all new cancers diagnosed each year. Most people know of someone who has been affected, and sadly, many know of someone who has died from skin cancer.

Whilst skin cancer is the commonest cancer in New Zealand, it is also the most treatable. Like most malignancies, the earlier it is detected, the simpler the treatment and the better the prognosis. Early identification and appropriate intervention avoids potentially disfiguring complications and saves lives.

Early detection is dependent upon people presenting early to a Doctor if they have any concerns about their skin but predominantly due to examinations by a Doctor specially trained in recognising the often subtle early signs. Most skin cancers are not painful and will grow insidiously often being detected later than they could have been when there is a higher potential for complications.

Specialist Dermatologists are medically trained doctors who have undergone an extensive additional training programme to equip them with expertise in the identification and management of all skin disorders. This training provides the skill and experience necessary to diagnose all types of skin cancer and recommend the most appropriate treatment to optimise the cure rates. Such treatments may include microscopically controlled excision of skin cancer (Mohs micrographic surgery) for certain facial skin cancers (some Dermatologists have completed a further fellowship programme in skin cancer and reconstructive surgery), standard surgical excision, cryotherapy (freezing treatment) and topical treatment (with creams).

Specialist Dermatologists are experts in examining all of your skin to identify the subtle early signs of skin cancer that you may not even be aware of. They are trained in the use of additional diagnostic tools such as dermoscopy (microscopy of the skin) and biopsies to diagnose skin cancers at the earliest possible stage and distinguish them from the often significant number of harmless growths and blemishes that we have on our skin.

When it comes to skin cancer, the earlier this is identified, the better the outlook. If you have any concerns about your skin or would like a skin examination (skin check) make an appointment to see a Specialist Dermatologist at the Skin Centre, the early skin cancer detection experts.