The Dermatology Institute of Victoria has both male and female dermatologists on staff who regularly conduct mole and general skin cancer assessments. 

What is mole and skin cancer screening?

Skin cancer screening is a service that Dermatologists and other skin care professionals provide where the skin is examined for abnormal looking moles and skin cancers. Mole and skin cancer screening provides a “moment in time” skin analysis which then requires the collaboration between medical professionals and patients over time, so that skin changes can be monitored.

What happens in mole and skin cancer screening?

The general procedure consists of the patient undressing to their underwear and putting on a gown. Sections of the skin are examined by the medical professional for any obviously abnormal lesions. Photos may be taken so that a "moment in time" record can be kept and any future changes can be compared.

The patient should alert the doctor to any lesions that they are worried about, in particular any spots that are changing more rapidly or differently to their neighbours, these require close inspection by the examiner. Change for any potential skin cancer or melanoma is the priority.

Mole examinations may be performed once by a medical professional and if they perceive the patient to be a low risk candidate, they may then ask the patient to self-examine and not necessarily report for repeated examinations. However, if the patient is perceived to be a medium or high risk patient, they will be asked to report for repeated examinations to assess for changes in their lesions.

What doesn’t mole and skin cancer screening examine?

Often skin cancer screening is limited by modesty concerns and hairstyling and may not involve a full examination of the scalp, breasts in females and external genitalia of either sex. It is considered the patients responsibility to examine these areas. It should be remembered that these are uncommon sites for skin cancer, but not unheard of. Please bring any lesions of concern to the attention of your medical practitioner.

Skin cancer screening is not an entirely accurate process, as with all screening services it provides an opinion of the lesions at a certain point in time and unfortunately early skin cancers can take on a benign appearance and further investigation may be required as a result of the screening.

Click here to learn about how you should be checking your skin at home. Tips from Dermatology Institute of Victoria dermatologist Dr Anina Fitzgibbon

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