Skin Health & Check

Skin Health & Check

Did you know that 2 in 3 Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70? Skin cancer affects men and women of all ages, with the highest risk attributed to those with fairer skin and a family history of skin cancer. Early detection is essential for the successful treatment of skin cancer; therefore, Australians are encouraged to undergo skin checks annually.

Why Is Skin Cancer Prevalent in Australia?

Unfortunately, Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer. Anyone can be at risk of developing skin cancer, and this risk increases as you grow older. For the most part, skin cancer is caused by our climate, and in turn, our exposure to UV radiation found in sunlight.

Collectively as a nation that enjoys spending time outside, factors that increase the risk of skin cancer arise from sunburn, tanning, and solarium use.  

Who Needs a Skin Check?

Anyone with a risk factor for skin cancer should consider receiving regular whole-body skin check-ups. Skin cancers can even develop on parts of the body that do not receive sun exposure.

Here is a list of risk factors that increase the chance of a person developing skin cancer:

  • Family history of skin cancer
  • You have had skin cancer before
  • You have been harshly sunburnt in the past, particularly in your younger years
  • You have used a solarium before
  • You have a large number of moles and freckles on your body
  • You work and have worked in the outdoors
  • People with fair skin that burns easily

Signs Of Skin Cancer

The sooner the skin cancer is detected and treated, the better your chance of avoiding surgery or other treatments. We recommend that you consult your GP or dermatologist if you have noticed any changes to your skin, such as the following:

  • Non-healing, crusty sores
  • Red, pale, or pearly-coloured small lumps on the skin
  • New spots, freckles, or moles that change in colour, thickness, and shape over a period of weeks
  • Painful, bleeding, or fast-growing lesions

What Happens in A Skin Check?

During a skin check, the doctor will examine your entire body using a handheld microscope which magnifies and illuminates the skin. This includes areas of the body that are not normally exposed to sunlight. The doctor will also examine particular areas of concern that you wish to bring up.

Any suspicious areas, moles, or lesions will be noted. If the need arises, the doctor will discuss with you a biopsy or excision treatment to remove a lesion. Otherwise, some moles may require only observation, which involves the use of digital photography.   

It is recommended that you do not wear any makeup, artificial tanner, or nail polish to your check-up appointment. This allows the doctor to have an unobstructed view of your skin.

How Long Does a Skin Check Take?

Skin checks can take anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes. Based on the results, the doctor will have a discussion with you about any treatments needed to manage your risk moving forward or to treat skin cancers found.

Tips On How to Prevent Skin Cancer

95% of melanomas are caused by sunburn. The Cancer Council recommends taking these measures to prevent sunburn and reduce the risk of developing skin cancer:

  • Wear sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible
  • Use water-resistant SPF 50+ sunscreen. Remember to put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards.
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses – this protects your face, head, neck, and ears.
  • Where possible, rest in the shade and avoid prolonged exposure to the sun.

The advice above is very general and it must be noted that people who work or play outside every day need to follow stricter measures to prevent skin cancer. 

Get Your Skin Checked at Shire Doctors and Dentists

Being sun smart is essential for prevention whilst regular self-checks and seeing your GP can help to ensure any skin cancers can be identified and treated early before they spread.

When performing a skin check, your GP will generally start by reviewing your medical history to assess your risk. They will then perform an examination from your head to your toes. 

Please get in contact with the Shire Doctors And Dentists team on 02 9063 8650 for further information or to book an appointment; alternatively, you can reach us by email at info@shiredoctorsanddentists.com.au.