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Skin Cancer – Do you know your spots and reconstruction options?

July 6, 2023

Spots appear on our skin across all stages of life, and not all of them are harmful, however skin cancer will affect someone we all love. New Zealand has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world, and melanoma is our deadliest. New research from JAMA Dermatology reports that 350 New Zealanders lose their lives to melanoma each year. But whilst melanoma statistics are alarming, there are also two common cancers on the rise.

Our most common skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and is typically slow growing. BBC lesions are sometimes pearly in appearance, or pale and waxy in texture – approximately 85% will showcase on the head and neck region and are most common in fair skinned people.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is our second most common form of skin cancer. It can appear as a raised, crusty, non-healing sore, and is often found on hands, forearms, ears, face or neck. Its most common in those aged over 40 and can be life-threatening if left untreated.

We know that UVB and UVA light damage our skins cells differently. UVB light damages the surface layers of the skin and causes sunburn, whilst UVA penetrates the deeper layers of the skins. This causes oxidative stress and spurs the production of free radicals. These free radicals contribute to skin cancer and skin ageing. Fighting back against skin cancer isn’t just about reducing our sun exposure, it’s also about targeting the damage earlier. Because cancer, especially melanoma, can rapidly spread to other areas of the body, monitoring changes in lesions and moles regularly is essential – particularly in winter when skin activity is settled post-summer.

When skin cancer is detected, ensuring we place ourselves in the hands of trusted and qualified skin cancer reconstruction experts is a must. Specialist reconstructive plastic surgeons, like Adam Bialostocki, are trained to analyse and provide the best functional outcomes for skin cancer reconstruction. As part of any skin cancer reconstruction journey, he’ll consider the type, size of the cancer, and margins required to excise, to ensure it is completely removed. Depending on the type and size of the cancer, reconstruction options may include: Direct closure – remove and close with a straight-line scar; Flap – skin with a blood supply to cover up missing skin sections; or Graft – skin with no blood supply, used to cover a defect.

When it comes to skin cancer, skin checks should always be prioritised, and any reconstructive pathways shared with those who are experts in their field. Journey with peace-of-mind, safety and assurance at the frontline.

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