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Self-examination

In areas like Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast, thousands of people enjoy sunbaths each year. Considering Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world and one in two Australians will develop skin cancer each year, you should be sun smart and undertake routine skin checks regularly.

It is strongly recommended that you examine your own skin every two to three months to get into a routine along with your yearly skin check by your GP, skin cancer specialist or Dermatologist. Examination is recommended monthly if you have a known history of skin cancer.

Conducting your own skin exam can be the best way in detecting the early warning signs of cancer. By doing your own skin check you can keep track of your skin health and report any changes to your doctor immediately.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Skin Checks

Video provided courtesy of LEO Pharma

Important facts on self skin checks

  • Self skin checks can add another safety level to regular skin checks by your skin cancer doctor, GP, or Specialist Dermatologist
  • New or changing moles may herald early changes of melanoma
  • Symptoms such as itch, pain or bleeding may also suggest skin cancer
  • New spots should always be checked out to exclude skin cancer
  • Not all skin cancers, including melanomas are brown or black- some melanomas are red scaly patches
  • Remember to check all area of your body, including the scalp, nail beds, and between your digits. Skin cancers can occur in sun protected areas
  • Simple photography conducted by you or your partner can also help with self monitoring of skin lesions
  • If in doubt, always consult a professional early- before it is too late
  • Skin cancer picked up early has a much higher survival rate than late pick up skin cancers

What follow up is recommended following treatment of IEC skin cancers?

People who have had IECs are at greater risk of developing other forms of skin cancer such as squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma or melanoma.  It is therefore important for people treated for IEC to continue to have regular skin checks performed by their GP, My Skin Cancer doctor or Dermatologist.

What is the difference between BCCs, SCCs and Melanomas?

These 3 forms of skin cancers account for the majority of skin cancers seen in Queensland.

BCCs or basal cell cancers are ‘good cancers’. Mortality rate is virtually nil, however these cancers are locally invasive and can cause destruction of local tissue.

Melanomas are bad skin cancers with a very high mortality rate IF left untreated. If a melanoma is discovered, you will need to be followed up every 3 months for 2 years following the diagnosis of melanoma. Melanomas are graded according to the thickness of the cancer.

SCCs are ‘in between’ skin cancers. They can have a significant mortality rate if they are not treated, especially on areas such as the ears, lips, head and neck area. Excision is usually curative.

How are skin cancers diagnosed?

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Skin cancers can be diagnosed clinically (examination), however a firm diagnosis is made on histology. This means the lesion, or a sample of skin is sent away for testing under the microscope.

My Skin Clinics also employ state of the art Dermatoscopic Photography and Mole Mapping to assist in the diagnosis of skin cancers, including Melanomas.

How common are skin cancers and solar keratosis?

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Very. 1 in 16 Queenslanders will develop a Melanoma; one in three residents will develop non-melanoma skin cancer. One in two Caucasian patients over the age of 40 will exhibit solar keratosis- an early marker for sun damage and pre cancer. The Sunshine State of Queensland enjoys brilliant weather for most of the year, but also predisposes their residents to skin cancer.

What is involved in a mole check?

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Mole checks are conducted by trained skin cancer doctors using a combination of methods including history taking and a clinical examination.

Skin cancer doctors also use a special method of examining mole ‘under the microscope’ called dermatoscopy.  In more complex cases, we use high resolution photography and whole body mapping to keep track on your moles over time.

Why does Brisbane have such a high incidence of skin cancer?

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Brisbane has one of the highest Skin Cancer rates in the World. The hard facts are- one in 16 residents will develop a melanoma in their life, and one in three Queenslanders will develop a skin cancer.

Brisbane’s high UV exposure and our outdoor lifestyle are the major contributors to the development of skin cancer and sundamage.

What should I do if I notice a mole changing?

r3Consult a doctor confident and experienced in diagnosing skin lesions- this includes your local GP, a skin cancer doctor, or a Dermatologist. Changing moles, including symptoms such as itch, pain or bleeding, can be an early sign of skin cancer or melanoma. Never ignore changing moles.

What does a skin cancer look like?

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Skin cancers can look like innocent lesions such as warts, flat moles, or persistent red spots. The biggest clue to a clinical diagnosis of a skin cancer is a changing lesion or a new persistent lesion. Remember, skin cancers are not just black moles, they can resemble warts, or even flat red patches. Your skin cancer doctor can give you a diagnosis, or if in doubt, conduct a biopsy.

Why is it important to treat sun damage?

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Sun damage can present as sun-spots or solar keratosis- rough, dry, persistent scaly areas on exposed parts of the face and body. Solar keratoses are lesions that can, over time, lead to skin cancer. Brisbane has one of the highest rates of solar keratosis in the World.

How are we different from your General Practitioner?

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The Skin Cancer Doctors at My Skin Clinic have a Special interest in managing skin cancer and sundamage, and have additional training in this field.