Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in New Zealand. The three main types of skin cancers are: squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), basal cell carcinoma (BCC), and melanoma. They usually occur on sun exposed skin. Due to New Zealander’s high exposure to sunshine, we have one of the highest rates of skin cancer.

Dr Scott Barker, Dr Micheal Sawchuk and Dr William Hunt, specialist dermatologist at the NZDSCC have all undertaken many years of medical training. They are experts in the diagnosis, and all the treatment options for skin cancer. They will discuss and formulate the best treatment plan for your skin cancer, based on the type of lesion, site of lesion and your background health issues. Dermatologists are trained in providing expert advice on all the treatment options.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

When squamous cell carcinoma is identified and treated early it rarely causes further problems. Usually treatment involves confirming a diagnosis with a biopsy and then surgically removing it with surgery under local anaesthetic (the patient remains awake during removal). If left untreated though SCC can grow large and become disfiguring. A small percentrage can metastasize to distant tissues and organs and become fatal.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Most BCC’s occur on parts of the body exposed to the sun, particularly the face, ears, neck, scalp, back and shoulders. However, occasionally, tumours can develop on unexposed areas. BCCs are easily treated in the early stages. However, if left untreated the cancer can cause considerable destruction and disfigurement. There are many treatment options available. Our dermatologists will cater the best option for any tumour based on its’ size, growth pattern, location and the patients’ general health. We may at times use creams (imiquimod), cryotherapy (freeze treatments), curettage & cautery ( a surgical scraping treatment), standard excision and for the most difficult tumours removal with Mohs microscopic surgery control.
If you have had one BCC then you are at increased risk for developing others over the years, either in the same area or elsewhere on the body. Therefore, regular visits to a dermatologist should be routine so that not only the site(s) previously treated, but the entire skin surface can be examined. Body (Mole and skin lesion) Mapping can also play a role in monitoring your skin, this too is a service we offer.


Melanoma is the most deadly of the common forms of skin cancer. If it is recognised and treated early, it is usually curable. But left unchecked, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes difficult to treat and can be fatal. In New Zealand, over 2 000 people are diagnosed with melanoma every year. New Zealand also has the highest melanoma death rate in the world.

Dermatologists have the best training and most experience at detecting melanomas. Evidence shows that dermatologists can detect melanomas at an earlier stage and regular checks in some people will be recommended.