Skin cancer and melanoma treatment

Skin cancer occurs when the genetic material inside the cells changes, and in doing so, causes an alteration of how the cells behave. They increase in size and number, leading to the development of a tumour.

There are two main types of skin cancer, melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and accounts for almost 3% of all newly diagnosed cancers each year. There are over 4,000 new cases of melanoma in men, and nearly 5,000 new cases in women a year in the UK.

Melanoma (also known as malignant melanoma) is a cancer that develops from cells called melanocytes, which are found in the outer layer of our skin. Melanocytes produce melanin, a pigment that helps protect the deeper layers of our skin from the harmful effects of the sun. This pigment appears as a suntan, which is a sign of damaged skin and a possible skin cancer warning sign. Melanomas often start in moles, although they can also develop elsewhere on the skin. In rare cases, melanomas can occur in the eye, under the fingernails or in other parts of the body not usually exposed to the sun.
Those with a higher risk of developing melanoma usually have one or more of the following factors:

  • A history of childhood sunburn
  • Prolonged exposure to UV rays
  • Fair skin
  • Outdoor-related work and hobbies
  • Multiple atypical moles
  • Previous history of skin cancer or melanoma
  • A family history of skin cancer or melanoma
  • A history of immunosuppression

Treatment is administered after identifying the nature of any skin cancer, or potential for skin cancer, the site affected and the potential of the tumour to spread. Thorough screening, proper diagnosis and an expert opinion are therefore essential to ensure that the most effective treatment is prescribed.  

Treatment options include:

  • Topical - effective for some less aggressive skin cancers, especially those occurring on low-risk skin areas such as the trunk and limbs
  • Cryotherapy – involves the freezing of cancer cells using liquid nitrogen
  • Surgery - this type of skin cancer and melanoma treatment is more invasive and is employed when the tumour occurs on a high-risk area of your body.  During the procedure, a specialist surgically removes the tumour and a small area of the normal looking skin that surrounds it
  • Radiotherapy - is considered for recurring tumours or for tumours that are difficult to operate on  

What results can I expect?

The skin cancer and melanoma treatment offered at St Joseph’s Skin Clinic can be complex and is tailored to each patient’s needs. And because we are based at one of the leading private hospitals in the region, you have access to highly advanced diagnostic capability, and rapid referral to leading specialist consultants, should you need one


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