When you are diagnosed with skin cancer, it can come as a shock. Fortunately, when treated early, skin cancer can usually be cured.
There are three main types of skin cancer in Australia, these include melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. If you have been diagnosed with one of these, you may be wondering what the risk of recurrence is:
Basal cell carcinoma commonly reoccurs, and once you have been treated it is important to be vigilant with your skin and mole checks. Approximately 40% of patients with this cancer will find another similar spot in the future. When treatment is successful it is unlikely it will repeatedly recur in the same place.
Preliminary studies from Stanford University have found an increased risk of other types of cancer such as blood, breast, and colon, after an unrelated diagnosis of basal cell carcinoma.
Squamous cell carcinoma is more serious than basal cell carcinoma. It has the ability to spread to other parts of the body, making it more difficult to treat. While it is possible that you may never see another cancer again, it is not uncommon for squamous cell carcinoma to recur.
This recurrence could be in the same spot, or somewhere nearby. The ears, nose, and lips, are the most common areas for this type of cancer to re-emerge, and this is usually within 2 years of treatment. Once you have had squamous cell carcinoma you will need to keep an eye on your skin for life.
Melanoma is fast growing, and is a potentially deadly skin cancer. When treated early, melanoma is unlikely to recur in the same place with a rate of between 3-6%. However, it can potentially come back years after being removed, and even 10 years is not unheard of. Melanoma which has been diagnosed later will be harder to treat and more likely to recur.
You might find a second melanoma in the same place, or somewhere else on the body. Like all of these featured skin cancers, melanoma is often caused by UV exposure so if you have had one, there is always a chance there could be more.
If you have been diagnosed with any type of skin cancer, treatment is essential for your long term health. The type of treatment will depend on the specific cancer, and which stage it has reached.
To help prevent new cancers forming, you should always protect yourself in the sun. This means seeking shade, regularly applying sunscreen, and wearing protective clothing such as long sleeves, a hat, and sunglasses.
Regular skin and mole checks are recommended for all Australians, but this is even more important for those who have previously been diagnosed with skin cancer. Monitoring your skin will help to catch any abnormalities early, and keep your skin healthier throughout your life.
If you are worried about your own risk of recurrence, or for any other questions please contact us today to make an appointment at one of our Perth clinics.
With multiple locations throughout Perth and the South West there is a clinic near you!