Surgery is the most common treatment for skin cancer. It is usually a quick and simple procedure that can be performed in clinic under local anaesthetic. More complex cases may be referred to be treated by a surgeon.
Your doctor injects a local anaesthetic to numb the affected area, then cuts out the skin cancer and some nearby normal-looking tissue (margin) before closing the wound with stitches. A pathologist checks the margin to make sure the cancer has been completely removed. The results will be available in about a week. If cancer cells are found in the margin, further surgery may be required to minimise the chances of recurrence, though this is always a possibility.
Repairing the wound
For large skin cancers, a bigger area of skin needs to be removed, and the wound may covered with a skin flap or skin graft.
For a skin flap, nearby loose skin or fatty tissue is moved over the wound and stitched together. For a skin graft, a thin piece of skin from a similar appearing part of the body is stitched over the wound. These procedures may be performed in the office but equally may sometimes be done as day surgery in hospital under a local or general anaesthetic. We can organise referral to other specialists as needed for these.