Skin Checks

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What is a skin cancer check?

A skin cancer check is a clinical examination to help detect common skin cancers including  

  • Melanoma which is the most aggressive and most deadly skin cancer. Early detection and treatment is key to survival for this cancer which on average is diagnosed at 65, and is the third most common type of cancer in Australia.*1
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) – which begins in the upper layer of the epidermis and usually appears where the skin has had most exposure to the sun (head, neck, hands, forearms and lower legs). SCC tends to grow quickly over weeks or months. These are the second most common type of skin cancers. 
  • Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC), a non-melanoma skin cancer that is generally not life-threatening. These are the most common type of skin cancers. 

 

What happens during a skin cancer check?

1. Skin Cancer history 

During your Aurora Dermatology skin cancer check Dr Parisa will ask you about

  • Your family history
  • Your work history 
  • Previous sunburn history
  • Previous cancer history 
  • The type and frequency of sun protection you use 
  • If you have noticed any changes in your skin including moles that itch, grow, change in shape or colour.

2. Physical examination 

  • You will then be asked to strip down to your underwear and Dr Parisa will examine your skin and scalp using  a special light (dermoscope) that magnifies the skin. 
  • If you have a mole in an awkward place (under the breast fold or under your underwear for instance, let Dr Parisa know).
  • Dr Parisa may take measurements and photographs of any suspicious moles so they can be used later for comparison and she will also do a thorough check of the soles of the feet, scalp and genital area.. 
  • If you are at high risk of melanoma or skin cancer Dr Parisa may talk to you about “mole mapping”, which is a program used to photograph your body’s skin surface using a digital camera.
  • Your skin images and reports are securely stored in a database for future comparisons.
  • If you have a suspicious skin spot, Dr Parisa may monitor it or take a biopsy (usually but not always on the same day).
  • If Dr Parisa determines you are at risk of melanoma, you may have additional tests to determine the extent of the skin cancer which may include imaging of nearby lymph nodes. 

NOTE 

  • Please note that prior to your skin check you should examine your own skin as best as possible including genital areas and tell Dr Parisa of any concerns. 
  • During home skin checks you may also wish to ask someone to put a hair dryer on cool so you can separate hair better to see the scalp. 
  • If you have been monitoring any moles and photographed them, please bring in photos to show Dr Parisa. 
  • Do not wear nail polish on hands or toes before 
  • Do not wear check fake tanning lotion

How often should you have a skin-check?

  • As two out of three Australians will have skin cancer in their lifetime, it  is important to have a regular skin check at least yearly. 
  • If you are at high risk for skin cancer, checks are recommended every three to six months, and if you have had a melanoma previously or are being currently treated for melanoma, skin checks are advised every 3 months.

What are the high risk factors for melanoma and skin cancer?

UV exposure is the man risk factor and other risk factors include: 

  • Fair or freckled skin that never or rarely tans
  • More than a few moles 
  • Lived in Australia from childhood (Australia has second highest incidence of skin cancer in the world)
  • Personal or family history of skin cancer/melanoma   
  • Use of solaria or UVR emitting tanning devices 
  • High levels of recreational sun exposure 
  • Work outdoors

What are the ABCDE signs of skin cancer I should be wary of?

A good way to remember the signs of skin cancer is to remember the ABCDE rule  

A    is for asymmetry or moles that can’t be roughly cut in half 

B    is for borders that are irregular 

C    is for colour that is not mostly uniform 

D    is for diameter – watch moles that are bigger than a rubber on a HB pencil 

E    is for evolving, or moles that change shape grow or bleed

    What are the best ways to prevent skin cancer in between skin cancer checks?

    Just as we have ABCDE for DETECTING skin cancer, another good way to PREVENT skin cancer is to remember the 5 “s” s of prevention 

    1 SLIP on protective clothing 

    2 SLOP on SPF 

    3 SLAP on a hat 

    4 SLIDE on sunglasses 

    5 SEEK shade  

    Also remember to:  

        • Leave the house with sunscreen on 
        • Check your sunscreen expiration – it is often not effective if expired 
        • Download the free SunSmart safety App to know when you need sun protection in your local area. When the UV is over 3 all five forms of sun protection are required, including shade, sunscreen, protective clothing (arms and legs), broad brim hat and sunglasses.  
        • Use the SunSmart App to send you reminders to reapply sunscreen every two hours 
        • Use one teaspoon of sunscreen per limb – don’t forget behind your ears, tops of you head (including part line), eyelids, tops of feet, behind the knees.  
        • Keep sunscreen on your desk, in the car, shed or handbag. 
        • Take breaks in shade where possible and remember working on grass where possible is better than reflective surfaces such as concrete, sand or water.
        • If wearing a shirt collar, turn it up to protect your neck