Squamous cell carcinoma is a type of cancer that mostly occurs on the hands. Basal cell carcinoma is also a common type of hand skin cancer and melanoma.
Skin cancer causes lesions that might need surgical removal to get rid of the cancer and for aesthetic purposes.
However, skin cancer isn’t the only cause of skin lesions on the hand. Benign tumours on the hand come in all shapes and sizes and sometimes appear as lumps and bumps. Hand tumours can occur in many forms, such as a mole or wart on top of the skin. If you have a tumour on your skin, the best thing to do is to see a GP to determine if the tumour is cancerous or benign.
Skin Cancer and Benign Lesions of the Hand Surgery Overview
What are Benign Lesions of the Hand?
Benign lesions on the hand can be bumps or lumps that include cysts, moles, skin tags, keratoses, corns, warts and calluses. Most skin lesions are harmless and don’t require removal. However, if the skin lesions on your hand are causing you problems and affecting how you feel about yourself, your doctor may recommend removing them. But your doctor will first run tests to rule out cancer. Benign lesion removal is safe with minimal risk of infection, bleeding and scarring.
What Does Benign Skin Lesions Removal Involve?
Treatment for benign skin lesions on the hand will depend on the size, location and how deep the lesions are. Benign skin lesion removal is done under local anaesthesia and may involve one of the following procedures:
- Partial lesion removal: The procedure involves layering the lesion off at the base such that it is at the same level as the rest of the skin. This method helps remove benign lesions like flatter moles, keratosis and skin tags.
- Complete removal: The lesion is surgically removed. The doctor removes the external lesion and surrounding tissue during the surgery before stitching the opening. This technique is ideal if the patient has large moles and lesions that might be cancerous.
- Cryotherapy: This technique involves freezing the lesion with liquid nitrogen. It helps remove keratosis, warts and skin tags.
What are the Early-Stage Skin Cancer Signs and Symptoms?
How can you tell if the lesions on your hands are early skin cancer signs or benign tumours? Skin cancer in the early stages will manifest as large brownish spots with dark speckles. If it’s a mole, it may change size, colour and feel and sometimes bleed. Another early sign is a small lesion with an irregular border and other potions that appear blue, blue-black, red, pink or white. The lesion may also itch or burn.
You can read more about skin cancer symptoms on Cancer Research UK.
What Does Melanoma Hand Surgery Involve?
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of hand skin cancer. When caught early, the cancer is treatable. Surgery is the best treatment option to cure early-stage melanomas. If the doctor confirms that the skin lesions are melanoma, the next option is to schedule surgery to remove all the melanoma. This is a minor operation that works very well to cure thin melanomas.
The surgery is done under local anaesthesia. The surgeon then proceeds to cut out the tumour plus a small amount of the normal skin surrounding the tumour edges. The doctor then stitches the wound. This will likely result in scarring.
Skin Lesion Removal Risks and Complications
Risks of skin cancer and benign lesions of the hand removal include:
How Long Does it Take to Recover from Melanoma Hand Surgery?
Melanoma excision helps remove a melanoma from the skin to prevent cancer from spreading. After the surgery, you will have stitches until the wound heals, which may leave a scar that will fade over time. How quickly the wound heals depends on the melanoma’s size. Generally, recovery takes anywhere between 1 to 3 weeks. If the melanoma was large, resulting in a large area of the skin removed, you might need a skin graft, which means the recovery period is longer.
You will experience some soreness around the wound. This is entirely normal. Your doctor may write you a prescription or recommend some over-the-counter medications to help manage the pain. Your doctor will also give you post-surgical instructions like when to return to work and resume activities like driving. You must follow all the instructions to fasten your recovery and reduce the risk of developing complications like infections.
What's the Best Treatment for Skin Cancer on the Hand?
The standard skin cancer treatment is the surgical removal of the cancer. The amount of tissue removed will depend on the tumour type and depth. Smaller lesions won’t require any stitching and may heal on their own. Sometimes the doctor may make a large wound around the lesion and then stitch it in a straight line resulting in a straight-line scar. More significant wounds may not be possible to stitch and may require skin grafts.
The best course of treatment is knowing how to prevent skin cancer in the first place. To prevent the development of melanoma and other forms of skin cancer:
- Always wear sunscreen and protective clothing when in the sun. If possible, limit the time you get exposed to the sun.
- Avoid exposing yourself to harmful chemicals.
- Stick to a skincare routine where you check your skin regularly for changes like new lumps and moles. Seek treatment immediately if you notice any skin cancer signs.