Melbourne Plastic Surgery Blog

Melbourne Plastic Surgery Blog

Your skin cancer questions

Thursday, April 17, 2014

With summer over and many of us feeling just a teeny bit guilty about time spent in the sun (even with our sunscreen and cover ups) now is the perfect time to take stock of your skin and moles and get them checked.  Since its introduction MoleMap at Brighton Plastic Surgery has provided patients full body peace of mind when it comes to their skin and any areas of concern. 

We've collated a few of the most popular skin cancer questions patients raise and asked plastic surgeon Dr Ramin Shayan to share some insights:

  •  What’s the difference between a BCC and an SCC?

Firstly not all types of cancer are the same. BCC and SCC are the main category of skin cancers known as non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSCs).

A Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is a growth within the basal cells of the skin, that give rise to the new skin cells that renew our skin as part of normal life. In this process, mature skin cells (keratinocytes) shed off the surface and are replaced by younger fresher cells beneath, that start as the basal layer. This type of skin cancer is essentially not able to spread  (a small group that do spread have been described as having <0.05% chance of spreading!!), however it does keep growing larger in the local area. Depending on the type of BCC, it may keep burrowing deeper. 

A Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is also an uncontrolled growth of skin cells, but this occurs in more mature layers of the skin. Depending on the type, these cancers may also spread if neglected, but is unlikely to do so if excised in a relatively timely fashion.

  • Why did my doctor say it was OK to wait a few months to have surgery – isn't it a cancer? 

The answer is that 'cancers ain't cancers'. That means, that just the word cancer is not a death-sentence. A cancer is simply a growth of cells that has lost the normal ability of the body's cells to sense when there is something wrong, and to switch it off. There are many different types of cancer, originating in many different organs. Whilst some cancers do carry a poor survival rate, generally, the non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSCs) - BCC and SCC are among the better types of cancer to have if caught early. If a BCC or SCC is in the early stages, it is best to treat them in the early stages however there is no additional consequence if we treat these within 30 or so days.

  •  Are all skin cancers melanomas? And if my skin cancer is not a dangerous one - why bother to get it removed?

No, in fact most are not. BCCs and SCCs make up the vast majority of skin cancers in Australia however some melanomas may masquerade as BCCs or SCCs so it is important to get the specimen sent to a pathologist once it has been removed. If it does turn out to be a melanoma, there is a range of different treatment steps that must be undertaken, depending on the depth and other characteristics of the melanoma.

  •  Do skin cancers run in the family or is it because of the sun?

A good question - there is a lot we are yet to find out about the genetics of cancer.

Whilst there are some familial cancers, most skin cancers are due to exposure to the sun. Of course fair skinned people are more susceptible to sun damage and certainly one does inherit their skin type from their ancestors.  If there is a family history of skin cancer it is crucial to discuss this with your doctor.  

If you have any specific questions about skin cancer or would like to find out more about MoleMap - phone us on 03 9592 0522.
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Dr Ramin Shayan appointed Consultant Plastic Surgeon to the Victorian Melanoma Service

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Dr Ramin Shayan has recently been appointed by the Victorian Melanoma Service as one of their Consultant Plastic Surgeons.

Located at The Alfred Hospital, the Victorian Melanoma Service (VMS) is one of Australia’s largest multidisciplinary treatment services for melanoma.  It provides treatment for patients who have a biopsy proven melanoma. The clinic is accessed via a referral from a GP or medical professional.

The clinic has a number of specialists who work together to diagnose, treat and follow up on melanoma patients. Medical professionals who work at the VMS include those who specialise in anatomical pathology, dermatology, plastic surgery, general surgery, medical oncology and radiation.

Dr Shayan has specialised in melanoma and skin lesion removal at Brighton Plastic Surgery since joining the practice in 2014. This is in addition to his pioneering work in the treatment of lymphoedema.

“It is exciting to join such an expert team to ensure delivery of gold standard, cutting edge assessment and treatment of often complex melanoma patients” said Dr Shayan.To find out more about the Victorian Melanoma Service visit Alfred Health.

Inaugural Friends Of Interplast Dinner

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The Inaugural Friends of Interplast fundraising dinner was recently held at The Carousel in Albert Park.

The dinner aims to raise much needed funds for Interplast’s work in repairing bodies and rebuilding lives across the Asia Pacific Region.

As President of Interplast, Mr Mutimer spoke at the event and is pictured below alongside recently announced ambassador, and rising AFLW star, Jess Hosking.

The evening was a huge success with funds raised being used to create the 'Friends of Interplast' Program. This will involve sending a surgical team overseas where approximately 30- 50 patients will receive life changing surgery, as well as opportunities for Interplast volunteers to build capacity and provide ongoing training.

To find out more about Interplast or to donate visit: www.interplast.org.au

Latest update on textured breast implants and ALCL

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This information has been summarised from the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons recent statement on Breast Implant Associated ALCL.

Understandably, a number of patients with breast implants have been alarmed by the increase of coverage in the news regarding Breast Implant Associated-Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma (BIA-ALCL) following the announcement that the TGA were reviewing the safety and ongoing availability of textured breast implants in Australia.

Here's a summary of current information and what you need to know:

  • The TGA announced on 11 July 2019 that it had completed its review and laboratory assessment of textured breast implants on the Australian market.
  • The next steps are either a proposal to cancel or a proposal to suspend certain types of textured implants by specific manufacturers. 
  • You can find the full list of implants in question on the TGA’s website.
  • It is important to note that BIA-ALCL is not breast cancer. 
  • It is a rare type of lymphoma that develops adjacent to breast implants, usually as a swelling of the breast 3-14 years after insertion.  This swelling is due to fluid building up in the fibrous capsule that surrounds the implant and does not develop in the breast tissue itself.  It can also present as a swelling or lump in the breast or armpit.
  • BIA-ALCL is a rare condition, with 92 patients confirmed in Australia and New Zealand.  Due to its rarity, it's difficult to be sure about the exact level of risk of developing this disease.  The risk of developing ALCL with textured implants differs with different grades of texture from one in 2,800 to one in 80,000.  Comparatively, breast cancer occurs in one in every eight women.
  • In the case of BIA-ALCL, the key to effective treatment is early diagnosis and specialist treatment.
  • In the early stages, BIA-ALCL is slow-growing and curable by surgery alone.
  • The cause is currently unknown but Australian and New Zealand Plastic Surgeons, along with local and international research organisations are working tirelessly to find the cause.
  • BIA-ALCL can occur in both breast reconstruction cases and cosmetic cases, as well as affecting both saline and silicone implants. 
  • At this time, there is no evidence to suggest the benefit of routine removal of breast implants if you do not have symptoms of this condition.

What should you do if you are concerned?

  • If your surgery was performed at Brighton Plastic Surgery, please ring us and we can inform you about what implants you have, and we can guide you through the clinical review process. If your surgery was conducted elsewhere and you are unsure of the type of breast implant used in your surgery, details will be in your original surgeon's medical files, and they will be able to inform you if it is a textured implant.
  • If you are unable to contact your original surgeon, please see your GP who can get you in contact with a Specialist Plastic Surgeon for a full clinical evaluation.  It would be recommended that this occur in any patient with breast implants, who are exhibiting symptoms of this condition.

We recommend that you click here to read the full statement from the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons.