One of the most overlooked and often ignored diseases is skin cancer, with a reported 86% of cases
preventable in the UK. As we age, our skin does go through minor, age-related changes. However, if
you notice anything out of the ordinary, such as patch of skin changing colour, a new mole
appearing, or succumbing to strange changes, it’s critically important that you contact your GP to
ensure nothing is wrong.
Skin cancer identified early, can be very easy to treat. However, the longer it is left without proper
treatment, the worse it will become. Protecting your skin throughout the year (especially from the
summer sun) is extremely important. Additionally, staying well away from sun beds is equally as
important, we all know that attaining the summer glow is appealing but sun beds are known to emit
harmful UV rays, which make your skin appear leathery and aged.
Cancer Research states that sunbeds increase the risk of melanoma by as much as 16-20%. So, if you
really are longing for that summer tan, it may be wise to invest in a spray tan, as there is no risk of
The longer skin cancer is ignored, the more serious the condition becomes, which is why it’s so
important to protect yourself during high temperatures, and even during colder months.
Treatment for Skin Cancer
Fortunately, there are various treatment options for skin cancer. The type of treatment you undergo
depends on the type and severity of the cancer. Some cancers are more aggressive than others, and
in order to treat them, surgery may be required. This is why it’s important to visit your GP if you
notice a change to your skin. Skin cancer symptoms can often be difficult to spot, so visit your GP if
you notice any cause for concern.
Bav Shergill of The McIndoe Centre explains 3 of the most successful skin cancer removal procedures
1. Photodynamic Therapy
Commonly known as PDT, this is a treatment which involves applying a cream-based sensitiser to the
area of skin requiring attention. The cream is then left to attack the cancerous cells for
approximately three hours. After this, a 630mm wavelength light is used to eliminate the remaining
cancer cells the sensitiser has highlighted. Recovery time for this treatment is fantastic, only taking
1-2 weeks. While patients will notice their skin turning quite red after treatment, they’ll take
comfort knowing the recovery time is swift.
PDT is incredibly effective at spotting skin cancers that are not immediately apparent to the naked
eye. No visible scarring is also another major benefit of PDT, allowing your skin to return to its
former, healthy form.
2. Topical Treatments
Topical treatments have seen success in treating different types of skin cancer. There are 3 popular
topical treatments: Efudix, Picato and Aldara. These treatments are particularly effective in treating
actinic keratosis (AK) – arguably the most common pre-cancerous lesions. They develop when your
skin has been exposed to too much sunlight and adequate sun protection has not been applied.
Below, they are explained in detail:
o Efudix is a chemotherapy solution which when applied to the cancerous area, will
turn red. This is common and part of the cancer-destroying process. It's applied once
or twice a day (depending on direction from your doctor). Scabbing is common so
don’t let that concern you. The solution should be applied for approximately one
month and the healing process will take around 2-3 weeks. After this time, your skin
should return to its former, healthy appearance.
o Picato is one of the faster skin cancer treatments, only taking 2-3 applications to
begin to have an effect on the cancerous area. Like Efudix, your skin will turn red
and peeling is to be expected within the first week of use. Try not to pick or peel the
affected skin as this will only prolong the healing period. After 2 weeks, your skin
should return to normal.
o Used to treat minor, less aggressive types of skin cancer, Aldara will turn your skin
red and sensitive once applied. It's commonly used to treat basal cell carcinoma.
Depending on the severity of your cancer, Aldara can be used for up to 16 weeks.
The above topical treatments have phenomenal success rates if the cancer is caught early enough.
Once the healing process is completed, your skin should return to its previous, healthy form.
3. Mohs Surgery
Mohs surgery is one of the most successful treatments in the industry, targeting both the cancerous
area of your skin and a thin layer of healthy skin beneath. This is to ensure that all the cancerous
cells are removed. Both cancerous and non-cancerous layers of skin are then checked under a
microscope to ensure no cancer remains.
While it is a form of surgery, there is minimal scarring (only a small amount of tissue is removed) and
as it’s predominantly performed on the face, this becomes an important factor for patients.
In most cases, the procedure is completed within a day. If the surgeon is able to remove all the
malignant tissue, there will be no further need for a repeat surgery. Another positive factor to
address is that patients see a 99% success rate once the surgery is completed, and this only drops
marginally if the patient has previously been treated for skin cancer(s).
Mohs surgery is only performed by specially trained dermatologists and is believed to be the best
treatment for removing skin cancer.
Treatment for skin cancer varies depending on the severity and type of cancer. This is why it’s
important to speak with your doctor regarding the best course of treatment. Treatment for skin
cancer (if caught early) have very high success rates, but it’s worth remembering that 86% of skin
cancer treatments can be avoided by simply protecting your skin from the sun. Sun protection is all
that’s required to ensure you’re protected from harmful UV rays, so be sure to apply protection
whenever the temperature picks up, even in the colder months!