Skin Cancer

Skin cancer describes the uncontrolled growth of mutated skin cells that produce tumours and discolouration of the skin. Unfortunately, our sunny climate means we are at a higher risk. For skin cancer treatment in Brisbane, Cutis Clinic provides prevention, diagnostics and treatment for the majority of skin cancer forms.

With expert dermatologists and experienced nurses and therapists, we provide specialist screening for early detection of skin cancer, as well as surgical and non-surgical options for skin cancer treatment.

  • Two in three Australian’s will be diagnosed with skin cancer by 70 years old

  • Men over 45 are the highest risk demographic

  • Early detection of melanoma can save lives. Early detection of other skin cancers gives enhanced functional and cosmetic outcomes. Our dermatologists are experts in the early diagnosis of skin cancer.

  • Some low risk skin cancers are suitable for non-surgical treatment, including certain prescription creams, and photodynamic therapy

  • Photo Dynamic Therapy (PDT) is a fast, safe, and effective treatment for low risk skin cancers. PDT utilises photosensitising medication, oxygen and light, to create a photochemical reaction that selectively destroys cancer cells, and minimises injury to normal skin cells.

  • All melanoma, almost all squamous cell carcinoma and higher risk basal cell carcinoma (morpheic, sclerosing, recurrent) are unsuitable for non-surgical treatments, and almost always require excision.

  • Radiotherapy is a unique non-surgical treatment for skin cancer. It may be used after surgery (adjuvant treatment) for certain high-grade skin cancers, or can be used as primary treatment, usually where surgery is not possible.

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What Are The Types Of Skin Cancer?

Non-melanoma cancers or keratinocyte cancers include basal and squamous cell carcinomas. Basal cell carcinoma or BCC is the most common form and can look very insignificant in its earliest stages. Squamous cell carcinoma or SCC is typically slow-growing but can penetrate to the deeper layers of the skin and has a higher chance of entering the blood stream and causing cancer in other areas of the body (metastasis) than BCC.

Melanoma affects the pigment-producing cells of the skin and is the most likely of the skin cancer types to metastasise. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential in all types of skin cancer and risk is increased through UV exposure either in the form of regular outdoor activity, sun bathing or tanning beds.


Originating in the skin’s pigment-producing cells, melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer.  It is, however, almost always curable if picked up at an early stage.

Melanomas either develop from an existing mole or appear as a new brown, red or black spot which changes and grows in size.

Early detection is all-important, meaning that any suspicious mole should be checked by a dermatologist as soon as it is discovered.

In addition to close follow up with your medical professional, self-examination should be performed every two to three months.

Features to look out for:

  • a new dark spot, freckle or mole, especially if enlarging

  • a new spot of any colour, especially if enlarging or if you are over the age of 40

  • mole or freckle that stands out from the rest of your moles (“ugly duckling sign”)

  • recent change in a pre-existing mole


Dysplastic naevi (also known as Atypical Naevi) are moles that look clinically and microscopically to have unusual and abnormal features.

They may be a precursor to melanoma, and there is also a strong genetic tendency for them.

Patients with large numbers of DN and have a family history of melanoma are considered to have Familial Atypical Melanoma and Mole Syndrome (or Dysplastic Naevus Syndrome) and are at a high-risk group themselves for melanoma.

These high-risk individuals should have formal screening performed by a Dermatologist on a regular basis whereby risk factors as well as frequency of follow-ups will be determined.  At Cutis Clinic, they are seen at Professor Peter Soyer’s Melanoma ad Mole Clinic.


BCC is the most common type of skin cancer. Their growth tends to be quite slow, taking a period of months to years, and only rarely do these cancers spread throughout the body.

BCCs most commonly appear on the face, head, neck and trunk regions and can occur in difficult to treat areas such as near the eye and the lower legs.  In most cases they are curable and one can achieve excellent cosmetic results.

Although they are rarely a threat to life, if left untreated they can grow, erode and destroy adjoining structures. Loss of whole organs, such as the nose, ear and eye, can occasionally occur. BCCs are more easily and successfully treated in their early stages. The larger a tumour the more extensive the treatment required.

For certain superficial BCCs, non-surgical treatment, particularly Photodynamic therapy (PDT),allows for better healing with minimal scarring.  For more aggressive BCCs, management by our specialist surgically trained dermatologists is the best option.

Other treatment options, depending on the subtype of BCC include:

  • cryotherapy

  • curette and cautery

  • imiquimod (Aldara)

  • radiotherapy

Your dermatologist will discuss with you the best therapeutic option for your individual type and location of BCC.


This form of skin cancer may start off as solar keratoses: rough, flaky patches or wart-like bumps that appear on the face, scalp, ears, and backs of the hands.  Some keratoses disappear on their own; others remain stable.  However, approximately 10-20% become fully developed cancers. They are completely curable if caught early. Left untreated, they can metastasize and be fatal.

A skin biopsy is performed to make a diagnosis. Precancerous solar keratoses are removed with traditional cryotherapy (freezing with liquid nitrogen) or more advanced photodynamic therapy (less risk of scarring and colour change).  Invasive SCCs usually require surgery by your Cutis Dermatologist.  In certain cases radiotherapy is utilized either on its own or as combination therapy.

Am I At Risk Of Skin Cancer?

The older you are and the more time you spend in the sun without protection, the higher your risk of developing skin cancer. If you have fair skin, this risk is increased; however, even those with darker skin should take precautions. Our climate and outdoor lifestyle means that everyone is at risk, even children.

People with parents or siblings who have had or have skin cancer are more at risk; certain genes play an important role in skin cancer development. Furthermore, if you have previously had skin cancer there is a higher chance of the same or a different type of skin cancer occurring at a later date.

How Do You Diagnose Skin Cancer?

Your skin cancer specialist will be a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon with specific dermatology training. The Cutis Clinic team is comprised of multiple, experienced dermatologists who work extremely hard to prevent and treat skin cancers in Brisbane. As all of our medical and cosmetic treatments involve a thorough examination of the skin, early detection is possible.

As Cutis Clinic is a medical facility, our dermatologists can carry out skin biopsies on site. These tissue samples are sent to a laboratory and the results of your biopsy do not take long to arrive. Results will be discussed in a second appointment.

How Do You Treat Skin Cancer?

If your results are positive for skin cancer, surgical excision is required. Early treatment can completely cure skin cancer.

Depending on the type, stage and depth of your skin cancer, different techniques are used to remove it. Early stage treatments may use methods such as the burning and freezing of a lesion, topical chemotherapy creams, combination cream and light therapy, radiotherapy and laser therapy.

Surgery to remove the lesion (excision) can be carried out in the clinic under a local anaesthetic; for more complex procedures most of our dermatologists have regular theatre time in fully equipped hospitals. In a hospital, a specialised surgical technique known as Mohs surgery can be applied where fine layers of skin are progressively removed and sent for testing. This continues during a single procedure until laboratory results no longer show the presence of cancer cells.

Can You Cure Skin Cancer?

If caught in early to mid stages, the answer is yes. The earlier the diagnosis, the higher the chance of a complete cure. If skin cancer is advanced, the outcome is less positive. Treatment of mid to advanced skin cancers may include systemic chemotherapy and radiotherapy, targeted cancer drugs and deep excision. If skin cancer metastasizes into other organs or tissues it can be fatal.

If you are concerned about an unusual blemish on your skin and live in or near Brisbane, skin cancer testing at Cutis Clinic could put your mind at ease. Our clinic is a medical service equipped to diagnose and treat BCC, SCC and melanoma. We also offer skin cancer prevention advice in Brisbane.