Rapid Access Skin Clinic

The Rapid Access Clinic is a service offered through the Calgary Plastic Surgery Centre aimed to reduce wait times for surgical management of skin cancers and irregular (dysplastic) pre-cancerous skin lesions.

Reducing Wait Times

The Rapid Access Clinic is a service offered through the Calgary Plastic Surgery Centre aimed to reduce wait times for surgical management of skin cancers and irregular (dysplastic) pre-cancerous skin lesions.

Our goal is to provide faster access for surgical treatment by offering dedicated minor surgical time to patients referred through the Rapid Access Clinic.

Skin Cancers

Management and risks associated with different skin cancers is dependent on the location and/or cell type of the tumours.

The three most common types of skin cancer are:

  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
  • Melanoma

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer and typically shows up in sun-exposed areas such as the head, neck, trunk and extremities.

Is this Cancer Dangerous?

Although BCCs are indolent lesions, they are locally growing and can be locally invasive. This means that the growth can get larger and larger over time and invade into deeper and surrounding tissues of the body, such as tendons, nerves and bones.

Metastasis (cancer spreading to a distant part of the body), however, is extremely rare.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin cancer and typically occurs in sun-exposed areas. It can also occur in non-sun-exposed areas such as the legs, genital area and areas of chronic skin irritation or damage.

Bowen’s Disease (also known as Squamous Cell Carcinoma In Situ) is an early stage SCC that presents as scaly raised red patches most often on sun-exposed areas such as the head, neck, trunk and extremities.

Is this Cancer Dangerous?

SCC and Bowen’s Disease are cancerous lesions that are usually locally growing and locally invasive. On rare occasions, they can invade and spread to other areas of the body .

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common type of skin

Melanoma

Malignant Melanoma (MM) is the most serious type of skin cancer. They can occur anywhere on the body presenting in both sun-exposed and non-sun-exposed areas.

Is this Cancer Dangerous?

Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. They have the highest chance of invasion or metastasis (spread) compared to other skin cancers. They must be recognized early and treated promptly to avoid local invasion and spread through the body. Due to their spread through the body, they have a high chance of being fatal if left untreated. The prognosis and survival of patients with melanoma is dependent on the stage of cancer. The sooner it is detected and surgically excised, the better the chance of survival.

Pre-Cancerous Skin Lesions

Actinic Keratosis (AK)

Actinic Keratoses are skin lesions that develop raised spots and often show up in sun-exposed areas, such as the head, neck, trunk and extremities.

Are these lesions dangerous?

Actinic Keratoses are lesions of concern, as they are considered to be pre-cancerous. They are precursors to Squamous Cell Carcinomas (SCC).

Although most actinic keratosis spots do not turn into SCC, a lot of SCCs develop from pre-existing actinic keratosis spots. Currently, there is no reliable clinical measure to determine which actinic keratosis spots turn into SCC and which don’t. It is estimated that around 0.03-20% of actinic keratoses turn into SCC.

Keratoacanthoma (KA)

Keratoacanthomas are rapidly growing lesions that often develop into a 1-2cm dome-like nodule. They will then involute leaving a crater like ulcer/necrotic area.

Are these lesions dangerous?

Keratoacanthomas can be concerning since they are difficult to distinguish from SCC. Sometimes they can resolve on their own. However, some lesions can change into SCC. Since it can be difficult to know which ones can become worrisome, they are typically surgically excised and sent for pathological examination.

Dysplastic Nevus (DN)

Dysplastic nevi are also known as irregular or atypical moles. They can arise spontaneously on their own (de novo) or can result from a transformation of previously non-worrisome nevus (mole).

Are these lesions dangerous?

Dysplastic nevi in their current state are not worrisome. However, they are classified as pre-cancerous skin lesions that can develop into a serious skin cancer such as melanoma if left untreated. It is difficult to know which ones will progress onto melanoma and which ones will not, so surgical excision is recommended to remove the potential risk of melanoma.

At the Calgary Plastic Surgery Centre, we strive to provide treatment for skin cancers and pre-cancerous skin lesions quickly and definitively to give our patients a peace of mind.  Successful surgery not only completely removes the cancerous cells but should also prevent them from recurring in the future.  With surgical excision, Dr. Chahal also takes extra care to minimize scarring from procedure and performs reconstructive surgery such as using skin flaps and grafts when damage from the cancer requires it.

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