Glossary

  • Actinic Keratosis   see solar keratosis
  • Aldara     Aldara is a cream used to treat sunspots and superficial BCC's. It stimulates the immune system which causes an inflammatory reaction that destroys precancerous and cancerous cells ... see more
  • Basal Cell Carcinoma   see BCC
  • BCC     Basal Cell Carcinoma. This is the most common skin cancer. They are not as dangerous as melanomas or SCCs as they rarely metastasize. However they do invade locally and can be difficult to remove if not treated promptly ... see more
  • Benign     Benign means non-cancerous.
  • Carcinoma     A carcinoma is a cancer of one of the cells that line the inner or outer surfaces of the body. All skin cancers are carcinomas. Other sorts of cancer include cancers of deep tissues like muscle, bone and cartilage (called sarcomas) and cancers of the blood cells (eg. leukemia).
  • Cryotherapy     Cryotherapy, often called cryo, is the treatment of lesions with a cold substance. At Queensland Sun, we use liquid nitrogen spray (-196 C). Cryo is an option for most sunspots and selected early skin cancers. Early skin cancers treated in this way are often debulked (scooped out) first (see curettage).
  • Curettage     Curettage is the act of scooping out a lesion with a spoon-like instrument (called a curette) as part of the treatment process.
  • Dermatoscope     A dermatoscope is a device that gives a magnified view of the skin free of surface reflections. Dermatoscopy is mainly used to closely examine irregular pigmented lesions to diagnose melanomas. Digital dermatoscopy is the recording of digital images taken from a dermatoscope to assess changes in pigmented spots over time (see Fig 1).
  • Diathermy     Diathermy is the use of an electrical current to burn. It is used during normal surgery to seal blood vessels (cauterize); to burn off benign blood vessels (cherry spots and telangiectasias) and cauterize bleeding after debulking (see cryotherapy and curettage)
  • Dysplastic Nevus     A dysplastic nevus is a large and irregular benign mole. They need to be inspected closely to make sure that they are not a melanoma. Most do not turn into a melanoma, but if they are changing in appearance, they are best removed. People with multiple dysplastic moles are at a greater risk of developing melanoma elsewhere on their body and need regular checks.
  • Efudix     Efudix is a cream used to burn off sunspots and select non-invasive SCC's (see IEC). It causes cells to die when they divide, so cells undergoing rapid cell division (abnormal cells) are destroyed before normal cells. It can be used to treat single spots (especially on the face as it causes little to no scarring), but is more commonly used to treat areas or fields of sun damage ... see more)
  • Excisional Biopsy     A procedure where an entire lesion is removed and sent for testing, without sampling it first.
  • IEC     Intraepidermal Carcinoma. This is an SCC that hasn't invaded yet ie. a non-invasive SCC. Also known as Bowen's disease. IEC treatment options include efudix, cryotherapy (with or without curettage) and excision.
  • Incisional Biopsy     A procedure where part of a lesion is removed and sent for testing to determine the appropriate treatment. If the entire lesion is removed and sent for testing, this is called an excisional biopsy.
  • Level 1 Melanoma     Level 1 means that it has not invaded at all yet. Level 1 melanomas are treated with simple excision and rarely cause further problems. If left untreated, they will eventually start to invade and spread.
  • Malignant     Malignant means cancerous.
  • Melanoma     Melanomas are cancers of pigment cells (melanocytes). They are dangerous because they can spread when they have invaded as little as 1mm into the skin ... see more
  • Melanoma-in-situ     A melanoma-in-situ or insitu-melanoma is a level 1 melanoma.
  • Metastasis     Metastasis is the spread of cancers to areas away from the original site e.g. a melanoma on the arm spreading up to the glands in the armpit.
  • NMSC    see Non Melanoma Skin Cancer
  • Non Melanoma Skin Cancer     Also known as NMSC. Melanomas are significantly more dangerous than other skin cancers. As a result, skin cancers are often classified as either melanomas and non-melanomas. The 2 most common NMSC's are the BCC and the SCC.
  • In Situ     Means “on site” or “in place”. When describing skin cancers, it means they haven’t moved yet ie. they haven’t invaded yet.
  • SCC     Squamous Cell Carcinoma. SCC's tend to be scaly lumps and are often tender. They often erupt suddenly and grow quickly. SCC's can be dangerous as they can spread to other parts of the body. Generally they are not as dangerous as melanomas as they tend to spread much later. However extra care needs to be taken when they occur on the lips and ears ... see more
  • Skin Flap     Skin flap surgery is a reconstructive technique where skin with an intact blood supply is moved to another site to repair a defect.
  • Solar Keratosis     Also known as actinic keratosis or more commonly as sunspot. Sunspots are benign areas of sun damage that have not yet turned cancerous. The damage can be a single spot, or sometimes a wide area. Mild sunspots can be left untreated as they often resolve by themselves. If sunspots are thick or inflamed (red, swollen and tender), it is best to treat them before they become cancerous. Treatment options include creams (see efudix, aldara and picato),exfoliants and cryotherapy. A solar keratosis that is verging on turning into a cancer might be treated with curettage or even excision ... see more
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma     See SCC
  • Sunspot     See solar keratosis
  • Superficial BCC     A superficial BCC is a BCC that has not yet invaded into the skin. It appears as a red-pink flat lesion, often mistaken for dermatitis. Treatment options include aldara, cryotherapy and excision.
Fig 1. Computerized Dermatoscope
Fig 1. Computerized dermatoscope
Fig 2. Melanoma
Fig 2. Melanoma as appears with a dermatoscope.
Efudix
Fig 3. Efudix. Common and effective treatment for sunspots.