Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC), is the most common skin cancer and normally the least aggressive – but it can be especially dangerous in the face especially near vital structures such as the eye, forehead, on the nose and on the ear. They arise in what seems like normal looking skin and come in several guises, such as pearly nodules, ulcerated lesions which bleed (Rodent ulcer), superficial pink patches and even as pigmented lesions, which can be mistaken for a mole or a melanoma.
Early diagnosis and treatment by an experienced Plastic Surgeon such as Dr. Richard Hamilton is strongly recommended to avoid destruction of critical structures such as the nose, eyelid, lip and ear by the cancer, as well as to prevent invasion and spread.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is the next most aggressive skin cancer. If unchecked it can spread beyond the immediate vicinity to the lymph nodes. SCC lesions may arise ‘de novo’ (without a pre-existing mole), or from pre-existing solar keratoses, which are crusty lesions in sun exposed areas of the body. They are common on the face, ears, lips, back of the hand and the lower leg. Invasive SCCs are usually gradually developing, tender, scaly or crusted lumps. The lesions may develop into sores or ulcers that fail to heal. Sometimes, however, they can appear out of nowhere and grow very rapidly, indicating an aggressive behaviour and should be removed early by a specialist plastic surgeon.
BCCs and SCCs are collectively known as non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSCs) and normally respond readily to surgery with complete cure.
Malignant Melanoma is the most dangerous skin cancer. If not detected early, it can spread to the lymph nodes and beyond that to internal organs. Melanomas can develop from benign moles or they can commence ‘de novo’. People with masses of moles and very fair skin are especially prone to developing melanoma. Early treatment by an experienced plastic surgeon is strongly recommended.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Situ (Bowen’s Disease) is a superficial spreading form of SCC and if not removed often progresses to invasive SCC.
Merkel Cell Carcinoma (MCC), is a rare but highly aggressive form of cancer seen in sun exposed areas of the face and arms. It can look innocent early on but it grows fast unfortunately has a tendency to spread rapidly. So early detection is crucial. It may be triggered by a virus.
Hutchison’s Melanotic Freckles (HMF) are superficial melanomas seen in the elderly, especially on the face and other sites. Sometimes called Lentigo Maligna or Melanoma in Situ, these lesions are very early melanomas at the pre-invasive stage. If untreated they become invasive and malignant melanomas. They are related to sun exposure and fair skin. They can range in size from 8mm to several centimetres. Any freckle on the face that is greater than 8 mm and has variable pigmentation and an irregular shape is likely to be an HMF and should be removed by a plastic surgery specialist.
Early detection and treatment of skin cancer by a plastic surgeon such as Dr. Richard Hamilton is vital to your continued good health.