Skin cancer is best divided into Melanoma skin cancer and Non-Melanoma skin cancer

Melanoma skin cancers are much rarer, but are the most serious type of skin cancer. They are usually an irregular brown or black spot, which may start in a pre-existing mole or appear on previously normal skin. Any change in a mole, or any new mole occurring for the first time after the age of 30, should be shown to your doctor without delay. Melanoma if diagnosed very early has a very good prognosis but these cancers metastasise to other organs if neglected so need to be recognised and appropriately treated without delay.

Non-Melanoma skin cancers are divided into Basal cell carcinoma and Squamous cell carcinoma. These are by far the two most common variants although there are other rarer non-melanoma skin cancers that exist.

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC):

These are very common in Irish skin. Most patients become aware of a scab or lump that itches or bleeds and never fully heals. They appear generally on sun-exposed areas. If left for years, they can erode the skin eventually causing an ulcer but early treatment gives excellent results. Basal cell carcinomas virtually never metastasise (spread into lymph nodes or surrounding organs)

Bowen’s disease:

This is another common pre-malignant skin condition that can present as a solitary red patch that is quite irritating and never fully heals. If this lesion is not treated it can develop into a squalors cell carcinoma. Bowens’ disease is common in Irish skin and chronic exposure to sunlight is the most common cause.

Keratoacanthoma:

This is a rapidly growing benign tumour that simulates a squamous cell carcinoma. Dr. Mackle always excises these fully because the can closely resemble skin cancer and she would rather be certain of the diagnosis.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (BCC):

These are slightly more serious lesions because they have the potential to metastasise (spread to surrounding lymph nodes or organs). Early recognition and treatment will generally give an excellent prognosis. A SCC can look like an irritated wart or can appear as a red scaly lesion with a red inflamed base. Particularly high risk areas for SCC are lips, ears and nose. Organ transplant patients on immunosuppressant’s are at high risk of developing this type of skin cancer.

Actinic Keratoses:

These are pre-cancerous lesions and can be multiple. They are usually found on sun-exposed areas. They can be treated in a variety of ways; this will be discussed during your consultation with the doctor. Actinic Keratoses are generally red spots or lesions with roughened scaly skin over them. These need to be treated appropriately with the doctor and a skin care regime including daily factor 50 sunscreen and retin-A needs to be adhered to in order to prevent development of future lesions. Dr. Mackle will advise you of same during your Dermatology skin consultation. These products are also for sale at Adare Cosmetics Clinic.

How can I spot the signs of skin cancer?

You should see your doctor if you have any skin lesions or marks on your skin that are growing, bleeding, change in appearance in any way, never heal completely, or any existing mole that changes shape, texture or colour. Skin cancer is usually very treatable if detected early so check your skin for changes once a month. You can use a mirror to examine your back but if you are not sure see your doctor.

How is skin cancer diagnosed?

If your Doctor has any concerns about the lesion on your skin a simple procedure can be performed to make a diagnosis. Either a punch biopsy or excision biopsy can be done and this is sent away to the lab to confirm the diagnosis. This involves injection of small amount of local anaesthetic to numb the skin and then the removal of either a piece of skin (biopsy) or the entire skin lesion. You may have stitches that will need to be removed a week after the procedure.

How can I protect myself against skin cancer?

You should wear a daily factor 30 + sunscreen. This will not only improve your skin in appearance but it helps prevent the development of skin cancer. Our doctors will go through instructions on how to use these creams during your Dermatology skin consultation.  Avoid sun exposure if possible.  In hot sun avoid the sun altogether between the hours of 11am and 3 pm, wear long sleeves and consider a sunhat. Do not use sunlamps or sunbeds.

What are the costs?

A dermatology consultation together with a mole removal costs €260. Additional costs for histology also apply and this is paid directly to the laboratory / hospital. Private Health Insurance may cover this treatment or a portion of the costs depending on level of cover so it is worth consulting with your provider to find out about you personal level of cover. We can assist with this as we are registered with all major insurers in Ireland.

If you are concerned about a lesion on your skin do not delay. Contact us to arrange a consultation today.

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