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SKIN CANCER AND RECONSTRUCTION

Non melanoma skin cancer

General skin cancer which includes Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the most common malignancy in Australia. It will affect 70 % of caucasian Australians by the age of 70 and is caused by a cumulative sun exposure over a lifetime.

It is higher in races with paler skin and its incidence increases as those people live closer to the equator. Fortunately if they are detected and diagnosed early then the cure rates are excellent as they tend to be not as aggressive as most other cancer types.

Management

The management of a complex skin cancer or melanoma requires assessment by a specialist from either the Plastic Surgical or Dermatology spheres. Most of the time the management is surgical although non-surgical techniques are appropriate in some situations. A referral to a plastic surgeon by either a general practitioner or dermatologist is usually because the cancer is in a cosmetically sensitive area or requires a specific type of reconstruction. 

The cancers are removed with a small area of surrounding tissue in order to get a clear margin around the tumour. The resulting defect that is left often cannot be closed directly and so necessitates a more complex reconstruction. This is in the form of a skin graft or transferring tissue around in the form of a local flap.

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