Skin Cancer

Skin cancer

The South West of England has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the UK.

There are several types of skin cancer. The most frequent are rodent ulcers (basal cell carcinomas), squamous cell carcinomas and melanomas.

Prof Devaraj treats skin cancer as part of a team of specialists that include dermatologists, oncologists, doctors and nurses specialising in radiotherapy.

Suspected cases of skin cancer are usually managed urgently by the NHS Fast Track Service.

However some patients may choose to have an initial biopsy or their skin lesion treated privately, using their medical insurance or on a self-pay basis. This can take place at the Nuffield Hospital in Exeter or Taunton.



Surgery can usually be performed on an outpatient day cases basis under local anaesthetic.

The suspected cancer is surgically removed and will be sent for examination and diagnosis.

If the cancer is fairly large, it may not be possible to close the skin together. A small skin graft (a piece of skin removed from one area of the body and transplanted to the site where the cancer was removed) may be required.

Skin grafts generally ‘take’ (i.e. develop their own blood supply) over five to seven days. Your first ‘graft dressing’ will be arranged around that time. The site from which the skin graft is taken will heal itself. The length of time it takes to heal ranges between one and three weeks, depending on which type of skin graft is used. For more information about skin grafts for skin cancer, please click here.


What happens to the suspected cancer tissue that is removed?

The tissue that is removed is sent for examination by a pathologist to confirm the diagnosis. Results come back within two weeks. The pathologist will also look at the margins (i.e. if the skin cancer has been completely removed). If the examination indicates that the cancer has not been completely removed, the patient may need a further surgical procedure or additional treatment, including radiotherapy. This will be discussed in detail during your follow-up appointment.


Useful links to information about skin cancer

BAPRAS' Patient Guide to Skin Cancer

Macmillan’s information section about skin cancer

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence’s (NICE) guidance about skin cancer

The British Association of Dermatologists’ (BAD) information pages about skin cancer.