Skin Cancer Awareness Month 2021 - The Lotus Institute

SKIN CANCER AWARENESS

In the theme of Skin Cancer Awareness this May, we thought it would be a good time to provide some more information on this important topic.

Skin cancer occurs from the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells.  Although it more commonly develops in areas that are exposed to the sun, it can also form in places that don’t normally get sun exposure.  It is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer, and South-East Queensland (and the Gold Coast in particular) have some of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.

The most common types of skin cancer are;

  • Basal cell cancer – The most common type of skin cancer, BCC’s emerge from the basal cells of the epidermis.  They are typically raised, red, and slow-growing lesions, but can spread superficially or cause ulceration.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma – Cancer caused by an uncontrolled growth of abnormal epithelial cells.  SCC’s, if left untreated, can spread to distant sites in the body.  They may be scaly or ulcerated in nature.
  • Melanoma – The most serious type of skin cancer, melanomas arise from the pigmented melanocytes of the skin, and can quickly spread throughout the body.  They are the most common cause of cancer death in patients under the age of 40.

 

The four signs of Skin Cancer are;

  1. Redness or new swelling beyond the border of a mole. 
  2. Colour that spreads from the border of a spot into surrounding skin. 
  3. Itching, pain, or tenderness in an area that doesn’t go away or goes away then comes back. 
  4. Changes in the surface of a mole: oozing, scaliness, bleeding, or the appearance of a lump or bump. 

Melanomas are not always darkly pigmented; they can be pink, purple, red, or even pale and can occur in areas that don’t see the sun.  This is why it’s important to have a full (head to toe) skin check with your GP, skin cancer clinic or dermatologist regularly.  On the Gold Coast particularly, this should be a mandatory part of your annual health check-up.

Dr Cronin and his team performing a complex head and neck reconstruction after a facial tumour has been cut out.

Some forms of skin cancer can be treated non-surgically when detected early. However, locally advanced or aggressive types of skin cancer typically require surgical excision, and often with soft tissue reconstruction.  Those requiring complex reconstructions will usually be referred to a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon in order to repair the defect with an optimal functional and cosmetic outcome. Dr Drew Cronin has performed thousands of such cases over his years of practice in both the private and public health systems.

Dr Cronin has as active interest in teaching, research, and health advocacy. He is an Associate Lecturer at the University of Queensland School of Medicine, and in 2016 was winner of the prestigious Emmett Prize, awarded for most outstanding registrar research in Australia and New Zealand. Dr Cronin has presented research at National and International conferences in areas including Breast Reconstruction, Skin cancer, Hand Surgery, and Head and Neck Reconstruction. 

This patient had a skin cancer called a Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) that had infiltrated deep into the side of his face. Once the ENT surgeons had removed the cancer, Dr Cronin and his colleague performed a free flap reconstruction to cover the defect. Dr Cronin used skin and muscle taken from the patient’s thigh and attached the artery and veins to those in the neck in order to re-establish it’s blood supply. This procedure requires a microscope as he uses a stitch that is 1/3 of the with of a strand of hair!

Dr Cronin is a member of the Doctor’s advisory board for Avant, Australia’s largest medical defence organisations. He is a member of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS), The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), and the Royal Australian College of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS).  Since obtaining his Fellowship, Dr Cronin has worked in both Public and Private Hospitals in Brisbane and the Gold Coast. He is currently a Visiting Medical Officer at The Gold Coast University Hospital, where he performs Skin Cancer Surgery, Breast Surgery, Head and Neck Cancer Reconstruction and trauma reconstruction. 

Many Gold Coast GP’s refer to Dr Drew Cronin because of his patient support and expertise in complex skin cancer surgery. 

If you would like more information on our skin cancer removal treatments, or if you would like to speak to a member of our team, please don’t hesitate to contact us at The Lotus Institute. 

For more information on Skin Cancer or Skin Cancer Awareness month, please visit https://www.skincancer.org/get-involved/skin-cancer-awareness-month/ or https://www.aad.org/public/public-health/awareness-campaigns/practice-safe-sun