The return of Spring has a profound effect on our desire to shrug off winter layers of clothing. But before you go throwing caution to the wind, it’s time for our annual stern word on skin cancer surveillance.
We challenge you to find an Australian over the age of 12 who doesn’t understand, to some degree, that the rate of skin cancer in this country is world leading. Not a ranking to be proud of. As skin cancer rates continue to rise dramatically from one year to the next, it has never been more important to take your own skin health into your capable hands by performing a simple skin check.
WHY ARE SKIN CHECKS SO IMPORTANT?
Like anything, half the battle when it comes to combating skin cancer and skin disease, is understanding the lay of the land. The ‘land’, in this instance, being your own skin. That phenomenal organ that protects the important, repels the bad, and defines us as humans. Knowing the status of your skin, its spots and wrinkles, bags and sags, is vital to understanding what is unsightly but benign as opposed to what is possibly sinister. Yearly checks provide an important base line to mapping any changes, leading to that all important early intervention that can literally mean the difference between life and death.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
A skin check is something that can be carried out in a simple 15 minute block of ‘me time’. It begins with taking time to examine yourself. Take a moment to stand in front of the mirror and look yourself over in good light. Check yourself carefully from head to toe, as it’s not uncommon for skin cancers to appear on parts of the body not exposed to the sun - such as the soles of the feet, between the finger and toes and under nails.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN DOING A SKIN CHECK
New spots, especially those occurring over months, rather than days or years
Existing spots that have changed in size, shape or colour
Moles that take on an outline that becomes notched
A spot that becomes raised or has developed a lump
Spots that have developed a rough, scaly surface
HOW OFTEN DO YOU NEED TO CONDUCT A SKIN CHECK?
Do you have fair skin combined with a family history of skin cancer?
Do you have a history of skin cancer?
Do you spend a lot of time (whether for work of leisure) outside?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, a seasonal skin check, as opposed to an annual one, is highly recommended.
At the Dermatology Institute of Victoria, we run a variety of services to help with the detection and treatment of skin cancer, including mole checking.
We have also established a Rapid Access Clinic for the quick treatment of non-melanoma skin cancers. Dr Tina Purdon can see patients without a referral. She can then refer to one of our dedicated team of medical dermatologists or resident plastic surgeon are on hand. They may perform routine excision of skin cancers, on site MOHS Micrographic Surgery for the removal of more difficult skin cancers, and optimal post-operative scar revision procedures.
The Rapid Access Clinic is open on Fridays.
Have a lesion you’re concerned about? Contact us via the form below.
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