What is Skin Cancer?

No one wants a skin cancer, least of all one on the face, yet most people will develop skin cancer because it accounts for 80% of all new cancers. There are genetic factors for skin cancer but we can’t choose to have better genes; there are also environmental factors like injury, medications and UV light exposure, and we can reduce these risks. Australia has consistently one of the highest UV indices in the world, and because the face both absorbs and reflects UV light around our eyes, skin cancers are common around the eyes.

So how do you remove skin cancers from around the eyes and face? Think of a mine field and how you would make it safe; first detect the mines, then clear the mines. In the same way, we treat skin cancer by first detecting skin cancer cells with a microscope and then clearing them. This is the principle of Mohs surgery, targeting abnormal cancer cells and preserving normal skin tissue. In other words, only what is necessary to be removed, is removed.

Traditional surgery doesn’t look for skin cancer cells but instead tries to clear the skin cancer by removing lots of normal skin and tissue around the cancer. This is still a valid option if there is excess skin tissue, like on the belly, but not suitable on the face where the skin is precious. Who wants to have facial skin removed unnecessarily? Mohs surgery has dual advantages of maximising skin cancer clearance whilst minimising the sacrifice of normal skin and tissue, giving you the highest chance of a great aesthetic result after reconstruction.