New Zealand has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world, with around 350 people dying every year. Melanoma can affect anyone at any age, however there are some factors that may contribute to a more common diagnosis in certain people:
Normal melanocytes are found in the basal layer of the epidermis – the bottom part of the outer layer of the skin. The melanocytes produce a protein called melanin, which protects the skin by absorbing ultra violet (UV) radiation. Melanocytes are found in equal numbers in dark and white skin types but the melanocytes in dark skin produce much more melanin. People with dark brown or black skin are very much less likely to be damaged by UV radiation than those with white skin.
Non-cancerous growth of melanocytes causes common lesions like freckles and moles, whereas cancerous growth causes melanoma. There are different types of melanoma and if picked up early enough, melanoma can be cured.
The cause of skin cancer, like other forms of cancer, is not completely known. Excessive exposure to sunlight is the single most important factor associated with the development of skin cancers. Consequently, skin cancers most commonly develop on the face and the arms, the most sun-exposed parts of the body.
Sun exposure – Sunburns, especially in childhood, have been linked closely with basal cell carinoma, whereas cumulative sun exposure over many years is associated with the development of squamous cell carcinoma. The role of sunlight exposure in melanoma is less clear.
Genetics – Genetic predisposition for the occurrence of malignant melanoma is perhaps the most important risk factor. Individuals with fair hair (red or blonde), pale eyes (green or blue) and fair skin are at high risk of skin cancer.
Other possible causes – Other possible causes of skin cancer include X-rays, trauma, viruses, infection, smoking and certain chemicals.
If you’re diagnosed with skin cancer, your treatment options depend on several factors including the location of the cancer, its size and previous therapies used. At Skin Institute, you’ll find both simple and advanced skin cancer treatment and management, with specialty surgeries for prominent areas like the face.
Mohs micrographic or CCPDMA surgery is the best method of removing skin cancer and ensuring that the skin cancer is completely excised at the time of procedure. Mohs micrographic/CCPDMA surgery has the highest cure rates for skin cancer (up to 99% when compared with other treatments for skin cancer***) and optimises the end cosmetic result.
At Skin Institute, we understand that skin cancer can be an intimidating diagnosis to come to terms with. Our expert team of qualified specialists are trained in the management of skin cancer, offering everything from assessment to post-treatment care.
Whether you just want peace of mind about your skin health, or you’re concerned about a specific mole or lesion, our team of skin cancer specialists will provide you with expert care – your partner along the way to skin health. We’ve treated over 20,000 patients with skin cancer over the last ten years, so we know just how common skin cancer is. If you do find yourself with a form of skin cancer, you’re definitely not alone.
If you have one or two moles/lesions that seem concerning, you can book a Free Spot check to have them assessed at no cost.
Alternatively, you can book a full body skin check with one of our Nurse Dermoscopists or a full body skin cancer consultation with one of our Dermatology Associates for a top to toe assessment.