Skin Cancer

Given the high ultraviolet exposure in New Zealand, many skin cancers result.  Lighter skin types are more at risk, often genetic. Sunburn is a risk factor.

Melanoma occurs more in northern NZ than anywhere else at present.  Moles that itch, bleed, have irregular colouring or borders, grow rapidly or undergo colour change are suspicious and need checking or removal. Examination with a magnifying light , dermoscopy, often can eliminate the need to worry, or determine whether an removal is indicated. Thicker melanomas are more of concern.   97% of melanomas are removed with early simple surgical excision providing a cure.   A wider excision may be indicated after laboratory examination.

Non pigmented cancer are far more common, such as basal cell cancers (BCCs) and squamous cell cancers (SCCs).  BCCs account for about 70% of skin cancers,, and SCCs 20%.  Some are more serious and require wider removal margins.   Nonsurgical treatment avoiding needles and scars is an option- photodynamic therapy (PDT) utilises a laser light and a photosensitising acid solution application to destroy the skin cancer cells with similar results to surgery.