Skin Cancer

Many Australians will unfortunately develop a skin cancer at some point in their life. Cancers commonly occur in the more exposed and delicate areas of the upper body and require the care of a highly skilled physician.

As our face, head and neck are the most exposed part of our skin, cancers commonly occur in these regions of the body. The eyelid skin is the thinnest on the body and is easily exposed to sun damage. It is the first area of the face to show signs of ageing and can develop skin cancers commonly seen in other sun-exposed areas including – Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC), Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

As with most forms of cancer, early detection is vital to achieving best outcomes. Unfortunately, eyelid tumors can grow under the skin for years before presenting on the surface making diagnosis difficult.

Research suggests that wearing sunglasses that block UV radiation is an important way to protect the eyes from skin cancer, and that sunscreen should be applied to the eyelid region as well as to all exposed areas of the body.

Once an eye cancer is detected, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you and likely refer you to an Ophthalmologist. Treatments for eye cancers are dependant on the type and stage of the cancer, your overall health, the chances of curing the disease, and the possible effect of proposed treatments on your vision. It is important to discuss all of your treatment options including goals and possible side effects with a qualified specialist before choosing the right option for the best result.

When dealing with skin cancers in the eye region, not only must the cancer cells be removed, but cosmetic repair or reconstruction of the area is often required to keep vision unhindered and intact, and to preserve aesthetic appearance.

Dr Vu specialises in eye cancer treatment and associated reconstructions – including the upper and lower eyelids, the brow area and surrounds. Depending on the type, location and size of your skin cancer, there are a number of different treatment options, all of which have very high success rates and deliver good outcomes to patients.

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As a patient, you want to know you are in skilled hands, that the clinician you choose can be trusted to deliver the best results.

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Conditions and Treatments:

Excision

A biopsy will confirm the depth and extent of a cancer and if located on an easily accessed and non-compromising area of the eye, removal by excision may be an option that requires minimal or no reconstruction. Working with a pathologist, sections of the skin cancer are excised, snap frozen and examined to confirm the cancer has been removed entirely. This simple procedure is generally done under local anaesthetic.

Mohs surgery

A highly specialised treatment whereby a dermatologist and ophthalmic surgeon work together to remove and reconstruct an area affected by skin cancer. Basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas adjacent to the eye are usually treated with this procedure, due to its tissue-sparing nature and high cure rates. A microscope is used to map the extent of the cancer to minimise the amount of tissue removed.

Reconstruction

Reconstruction of the eyelids is very specialised surgery which is only undertaken once all cancer cells have been removed. Reconstruction will vary depending on the location and amount of tissue that was lost during the cancer removal. Generally, some reconstruction of the eyelid is required to restore anatomy, protect the eye, preserve vision and deliver a good cosmetic appearance. Depending on the extent of the surgery required, healing may take many months. Dr Vu will be able to assess and estimate your recovery prior to surgery

When dealing with cancer of the eye region, a highly skilled surgeon with cosmetic experience is preferable. With early assessment and removal, best possible outcomes are generally achieved.