Reconstructive Surgery
Skin Cancer Management

The information provided is generalised and comprehensive patient-specific advice can only be given at individual Consultation.

Skin Cancer Management

Skin Cancer Management 

Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer and affects thousands of people in the UK each year. The number of new cases diagnosed is constantly rising. It is vital that you are skin aware and regularly perform self-checks, visually examining your skin for any new skin lesions/moles or changes to any existing ones, and seek GP or specialist opinion should you at any time be concerned.
There are 3 most common types of skin cancer:

  • Basal cell carcinoma or BCC (Rodent ulcer)
  • Squamous cell carcinoma or SCC
  • Malignant Melanoma or MM


Basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is a cancer of the cells at the bottom of the epidermis. BCCs tend to occur on parts of the body that have been exposed to sunlight such as the face and hands. The majority of basal cell carcinomas grow at a slow rate. BCCs should be treated however as they can cause ulceration and damage to the skin and the formation of a Rodent ulcer. Occasionally Rodent ulcers may recur locally on the same area of skin from which they were removed.
The prognosis for BCCs is usually very good, and with prompt, appropriate treatment, 90% of those affected will achieve a complete cure. Treatment consists of complete surgical removal and regular monitoring to prevent recurrence.
BCCs are the most common type of skin cancer.

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma, or SCC, is a cancer of the cells at the surface of the skin (keratinocytes).
Like BCCs, SCCs tend to occur on parts of the body that have been exposed to sunlight.
However, unlike BCCs, SCCs they have a slightly increased chance of spreading to other parts of the body if left untreated.
Nonetheless, with prompt and appropriate treatment, prognosis is usually good and 70-90% of those diagnosed will achieve a complete cure. Treatment consists of surgical removal of the SCC with or without lymphadenectomies, and may include radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy.
SCCs are the second most common type of skin cancer.

Malignant Melanoma

Malignant Melanoma (MM) is a cancer of the melanin pigment producing cells in the skin. MM is the most agressive type because it can spread quite rapidly to other areas of the body. MMs can occur anywhere on the body but most commonly form on the back, arms, legs and the face. They often initially appear as a new mole or a change in the appearance of an existing one. Unlike benign moles however they are usually irregular in shape, increased in size and may have a multi-coloured appearance. Treatment consists of surgical removal and histopathological examination with or without plastic reconstruction and lymphatic system removal, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
For all skin cancers, prevention is always better than cure, and the most significant risk factors for developing non-melanoma skin cancers (BCCs and SCCs) are excessive exposure to sunlight and over-use of sunbeds. It is therefore wise to take every possible step to protect yourself and young children from harmful UVA and UVB sun rays as much as possible.