Who needs a professional skin cancer check?

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in Australia.

Australia is the skin cancer capital of the world with 2 out of every 3 Australians diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime.

Anyone with an increased risk of skin cancer requires a professional skin cancer check. These risk factors include:

  • Being male
  • Age over 50 years old
  • Having many moles, especially if some are large or unusual in appearance
  • Having a history of previous sunburn, especially as a child
  • Working, or having worked, outdoors
  • Regularly participating in outdoor sport such as cricket, golf, football, surfing, swimming, running and hiking.
  • Used a solarium in the past
  • You have had skin cancers before
  • A genetic condition or strong family history of skin cancer (eg. Gorlin syndrome, Melanoma etc)
  • a medical condition, or taking medications, that suppresses your immune system

How often do I need a skin check?

Following your skin check, your doctor will advise you when to return for your next skin check.

If you have had many skin cancers before, you may need skin checks every 3 to 6 months.

What does a skin check involve?

Before your skin check appointment, please:

  • Inspect your scalp and skin, including your genital region. Take note of any spots of concern so we can review these at your appointment.
  • Do not wear makeup. You can bring your makeup to apply after your skin check
  • Avoid having nail polish or artificial nails
  • Avoid having a spray tan or applying sun tan lotion, in the 14 days before your skin check
  • Ensure your skin and hair are clean of any dirt, paint and oil
  • Change into clean clothing prior to your appointment

At your skin check appointment:

  • Please let your doctor know of any skin lesions you’re concerned about
  • Your doctor will discuss and determine factors that increase your risk of skin cancer.
  • You will need to get undressed down to your underwear. Wear comfortable underwear to facilitate the skin check. A modesty drape is available if desired.
  • A dermatoscope is used to inspect your skin from scalp to toes, front and back. We’ll ask you to untie your hair to allow us to examine your scalp

Following your skin check:

  • A personalised plan, appropriate follow up and possible treatment will be arranged

What to do between your scheduled skin checks

Looking at your own skin from head to toe, front to back, every 1 to 3 months, helps identify skin cancers early. Early detection of skin cancer reduces the chance of surgery or, in the case of a serious melanoma or other skin cancer, potential disfigurement or even death

Perform your regular self-skin checks with your routine self-breast and/or testicular self-examinations, therefore you won’t forget to do one without the other. By getting to know your “normal” skin, you will be able to detect sinister lesions earlier

Self-skin checks

Make sure you look everywhere, even where the sun doesn’t shine, as not all skin cancers are due to sun damage. Therefore, look between your fingers, toes, palms, soles of feet, armpits, groin, buttocks as well as under your fingernails and toenails.

If you don’t look (at certain areas of your body), you won’t know (if a skin cancer is present)!

As you SCAN your skin, think of SCAN (Sore, Changing, Abnormal or New). If you find a spot or lesion that is:

Sore: A spot which is either sore, scaly, itchy, bleeding, tender and doesn’t heal within 6 weeks.

Changing: in size, shape, colour or texture, especially over a short period of time (like a few months).

Abnormal: If a spot looks or feels abnormal to your “family of spots”, it’s an “ugly duckling”!

New: Spots appearing on your skin recently, especially if you’re over 40 years old!

If you find a spot or mole of concern, book in “spot check” with your doctor, or a full skin check (if you have not had one within the last 12 months). Take a photo of the lesion you’re concerned about for your doctor to review and compare.

Let our doctors guide you to better health so you can live your best life