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Skin cancer

Skin cancers are common particularly later in life and particularly in the South-West. There are many types of skin cancer and those that have the potential to spread to other parts of the body are managed by a multi-disciplinary team including dermatologists, cancer specialists, radiologists and specialists. Mr Cawrse works as part of this team at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital.

The commonest type of skin cancer is a basal cell carcinoma or rodent ulcer and if completely removed this is usually all that is required. Surgery to biopsy or remove a skin cancer is usually performed under local anaesthetic and often at the time of the first consultation. Occasionally if the lesion is large a skin graft or piece of skin next to the lesion (skin flap) is needed to close the wound and achieve healing. Any graft or flap will be reviewed 5-7 days later to ensure the graft has ‘taken and healing achieved. Almost all such lesions need to be analysed by a pathologist to confirm the diagnosis and ensure complete removal. If a skin cancer has not been completely removed then further treatment may be recommended either by way of further surgery or perhaps radiotherapy. On average however 95% of skin cancers are removed first time. Any such additional treatment will be discussed when the analysis results are available about 2 weeks after the operation.

More information can be found at the BAPRAS and NICE websites.

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