Lumps & Bumps Clinic

These can come in all shapes, sizes and colours. My advice… take it to someone experienced at making the diagnosis and treating appropriately.

 

On the skin

Pigmented Skin Lesions

Melanoma

In New Zealand we have particularly high rates of melanoma and this is due mainly to our exposure to ultraviolet light i.e. sunshine. The fact that we have deficiencies in the ozone layer over New Zealand means that the sun is not filtered as much as it is in other parts of the globe. We have all had the ‘Sun Smart’ message drummed into us, and with good reason, as exposure to ultraviolet radiation is one of the highest risk factors for developing melanoma.

We are all aware of monitoring our own moles on our body and getting others to monitor moles in areas that are difficult to see on our own body. The particular changes that are most significant include changes in size, shape or colour, itchiness, bleeding or crusting over the lesion. In fact any changes that a pigmented lesion undergoes should be discussed with a health professional.

The next decision to make is whether the mole needs to be removed for diagnostic purposes. If there is any concern regarding a mole, then it should be removed with a small operation. At The Women’s Clinic we perform these surgeries under local anaesthetic. It is usually a matter of five or six days before the final answer is returned to us and, at that point, we have the answer. As the old saying goes, ‘it is better to be safe than sorry’ when dealing moles.

Non-Pigmented Lesions

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

The most common non-pigmented lesions are skin cancers called Basal Cell Carcinomas or Squamous Cell Carcinomas. These little nasties can be benign or malignant and are caused by exposure to sunlight over a period of years. They occur most commonly on areas of your body that are exposed to sunlight more than others ie hands and face.

There are many options as far as treating these lesions go. It may be as simple as applying an ointment every day for 2-3 weeks to eliminate the lesions, using liquid nitrogen to burn the lesion or surgery to remove the lesion. These treatment options are weighed up and advice is given based on the size and location of the lesion and the most likely diagnosis. It is essential that if you have a skin nodule or lesion that doesn’t go away, that you bring it to the attention of your family doctor. At this point a decision on treatment can be made. At The Women’s Clinic we are used to seeing many and varied types of skin lesions and advising appropriately.

Removal is usually a relatively straightforward process however there are some particular parts of the body which pose a challenge to the surgeon. However, usually removal under Local Anaesthetic is a feasible option. The bottom line is that assessment is the first step before any decisions regarding treatment can be made. Come and see us at The Women’s Clinic for assessment and advice.

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Under the skin

Lipomas

Lipoma Back

Lipomas are a benign fatty lump. They have nothing to do with cancer but they can certainly grow to quite a sizeable lump. However it is never quite that simple. There are other particularly nasty lumps that mimic lipomas but do have a cancerous nature. These lumps need to be identified as soon as possible and treated in order to get the best possible outcome. Lipomas, however, are of nuisance value at worst. It is prudent to get any lumps under the skin assessed by your general practitioner who can identify if there are any alarm symptoms that need further investigation.

Removing a lipoma is a relatively straightforward process. In the majority it can be done under a local anaesthetic and stitches are usually under the skin and do not need to be removed. If in doubt take your lump to your GP who will refer you through to The Women’s Clinic for further assessment.

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Sebaceous cysts

Sebaceous Cyst

These are soft round lumps that sit under the skin and may have a small opening onto the skin. They are caused by blockage of the sebaceous gland causing build up of sebaceous material in the skin layer. It is encapsulated in a sac and usually enlarges as time goes on. They can also become infected and require antibiotics to treat the infection. It is a good idea to have sebaceous cysts removed preferably when they are smaller rather than waiting until they get to a moderate size. This can be achieved under local anaesthetic. Simply ask your GP to send you through to The Women’s Clinic and we will take you through the process.

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For further information or advice: Contact The Womens Clinic on P: 524 8887, 0800 WOMENS or E: reception@womensclinic.co.nz