Skin cancer: how is it treated, and can it be cured?

Written by: Dr Justine Hextall
Edited by: Conor Lynch

There are many different types of skin cancer, with some being more life-threatening than others. Early diagnosis and adequate treatment are essential when it comes to preventing skin-related complications and potential mortality.


In our latest article, revered Sussex-based consultant dermatologist, Dr Justine Hextall, outlines the most common types of skin cancer, reveals if skin cancer can be cured or not, and details the most effective treatment options for skin cancer.

What are the most common types of skin cancer?

The most common form of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma. It tends to spread locally. This type of skin cancer can erode the skin, so it is very important that we diagnose it early and prioritise adequate treatment so the patient doesn’t suffer from recurrence or a continued spread.


The second most common type of skin cancer is squamous cell carcinoma. Again, it tends to affect the skin locally, but can also spread beyond the skin to the lymph nodes. The lip and ear, in particular, are at high risk of being affected.


The most severe type of skin cancer is melanoma. Malignant melanoma tends to affect older patients. As a dermatologist myself, I think one of the most important things to do is to examine patients’ skin from head to toe.


Can skin cancer be cured?

Absolutely it can. Once there is an accurate surgical excision, then it is cured. If it has spread beyond the skin, then the chance of cure is reduced. However, even when it comes to metastatic melanoma, for example, we now have incredibly effective immunotherapies that can maintain or suppress the process for many years.


What are the most common treatments for skin cancer?

The most common treatment for skin cancer is surgical excision. One of the most important approaches to prevent skin cancer is to treat the field change, where the skin cells have been damaged by sun exposure, and these pre-cancerous skin cells can develop into carcinoma.


To treat this field change, if it occurs, we use topical chemotherapy treatment, or daylight photodynamic therapy.


Can skin cancer treatments negatively affect the skin?

Yes, of course. If you undergo surgery, you can develop a hypertrophic scar. We also see that check-point inhibitors (which we use to treat metastatic melanoma) can have significant side effects on the skin, such as skin sensitivity as well as skin rashes.


What are the benefits of skin cancer treatments?

The main benefit of skin cancer treatment is to reduce the risk of developing a skin ulcer, which of course may infiltrate various facial structures. There is a risk of mortality if you do not treat skin cancer, particularly melanoma.


Dr Justine Hextall is an exceptionally efficient and skilled consultant dermatologist who can treat your skin cancer if you have received such a diagnosis. Contact her today via her Top Doctors profile to book an appointment with her.

By Dr Justine Hextall

Dr Justine Hextall is a highly experienced, trained and qualified leading consultant dermatologist based in Sussex. Specialising in skin-affecting conditions such as acne, skin cancer, rosacea and eczema but to mention a few, Dr Hextall also possesses a specialist medical interest in anti-ageing treatments and paediatric dermatology

After graduating from King's College London medical school, Dr Hextall gained her Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians and since then has worked as both a clinical and skin cancer lead. She undertook her specialist dermatology training at the renowned St John's Institute of Dermatology where she held an honorary consultant post for five years. Dr Hextall is an appointed member of the skin cancer sub-committee at the British Association of Dermatologists.

Dr Hextall, who also specialises in skin lupus, has also become very well-known for her scientific approach to anti-ageing and skin rejuvenation procedures. Dr Hextall has, to-date, made a substantial amount of appearances in the press and today, frequently lectures around the world on her areas of expertise. On top of this, Dr Hextall is committed to training and has directed a local training programme for dermatology trainees for the past five years. Her main objective as a practicing consultant dermatologist is to find the most effective way to be able to combine the very best of aesthetic innovation with a deep and well-rounded understanding of dermatology. 

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