cancers are picked up early, before they have chance to spread, they can be
cured by simple surgical removal. Skin cancers tend to develop on areas of
skin that are regularly exposed to sunlight. They appear as new lumps
which start small and which grow in size. Any skin lesion grows to more
than 6 mm (1/4") should be considered suspicious. Melanomas are
usually dark in colour and may appear in a previous mole or on normal
skin. Any new, dark coloured skin lesion should be considered
suspicious. New skin lesions that itch, bleed or scab but don't heal up
should be considered suspicious. Skin cancers can occur in young people,
especially in fair skinned people who have a lot of exposure to sun.
3. What will happen if I have a
mole and I do nothing about it?
lesion is in fact a skin cancer it will grow and spread. Skin cancer
usually spreads through the lymph system and from there all over the body.
Uncontrolled spread of skin cancer is usually fatal.
What treatment is required for a
answer is that all suspicious moles or skin lesions should be assessed by a
specialist and removed for microscope examination. Most turn out to be
simple, benign moles. Others are early skin cancers which are usually
cured by this simple surgical removal.
5. What will happen if I need an operation on my
lesions are less than 10 mm (3/8") and can usually be removed using just a local
anaesthetic in your local hospital day surgery unit. Larger lesions may
require a biopsy first to diagnose the lesion and then definitive treatment
based on the result.
6. What does the operation involve?
operation involves making an incision in the skin, removing the lesion with a
small amount of the normal surrounding tissue, then closing the incision with
stitches. Some surgeons use stitches that will dissolve in the body and do
not need to be removed, others used stitches that are removed after the wound
has healed (usually 1 to 3 weeks). Your surgeon will discuss which method
is appropriate before the operation..
7. How long does it take to recover?
Most patients find that about one week is required to
recover fully after minor surgery but this depends on the site and size of the
operation. How long you stay off work
is dependent on the type of work you do.
8. Will I need to come back to hospital after the operation?
Most specialists like to see the patient in the
outpatient clinic after their operation to discuss the result of the biopsy and
check that the wound has healed satisfactorily. If the diagnosis is skin
cancer then further investigations, treatment and follow up appointments may be
9. Will the operation cure all the symptoms?
Most patients are reassured by having the lump removed
and have complete
relief of their symptoms. It is normal for a scar to remain at the site of
the operation and this scar should fade progressively with time. Most
small skin cancers are cured by this simple surgery and do not come back.
12. Will the
mole come back?
moles do not come back but new ones may appear from time to time. Skin
cancers can come back which is why patients with skin cancer are usually
followed up for a number of years after treatment.