According to the Cancer Council of Australia, two out of every three Australians are likely to be diagnosed with a skin cancer by the time they are 70.
Skin cancer - the abnormal growth of skin cells - most often develops on skin exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. In fact, between 95 and 99% of skin cancers are caused in this way.
There are three major types of skin cancer - basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, with melanoma being the most dangerous.
Non-melanoma skin cancers (basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma) are the most common type of skin cancer. They are more common in men, with almost double the incidence compared to women. Over 434,000 people are treated for one or more non-melanoma skin cancer in Australia each year.
While you can reduce your risk of skin cancer by limiting or avoiding exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, it is important to check your skin regularly for suspicious changes early on to give you the greatest chance for successful skin cancer treatment.
Proactive Skin Check is part of the South Street Medical Centre practice established in 1995. Recently the practice expanded into the specialised field of skin care and through Proactive Skin Check it we provide diagnosis, treatment and when required, surgery in our purpose built theatre.
Our doctors are up to date with all the current diagnostic and treatment procedures and use the latest methods of detection and diagnosis with great success. Called ‘dermoscopy’, it is regarded as the world standard for early skin cancer and is fast, non-invasive an accurate.
Dermoscopy is a unique imaging system that allows the doctor to see-through the top layer of skin, and evaluate what is happening to skin cells below. It uses detailed algorithms to determine the position of cells and structures within individual layers of the skin and by studying these patterns we can detect early abnormal activity that could lead to an early diagnosis of skin cancer.
Dermoscopy allows our doctors to not only detect skin cancers, but to also assess moles with a very high level of accuracy and in doing so, avoid unnecessary surgery of non-cancerous moles.
If a suspicious but non-threatening mole is detected, your doctor may take a photograph of it so that it can be re-evaluated for changes in the future, usually six months later.
How to check for skin cancer
According to the Cancer Council of Australia, skin cancer found early can be usually be successfully treated. However if left untreated, some skin cancers can be fatal.
It's important to get to know your skin and what is normal for you so changes will be quickly noticed. Don't just rely on an annual skin check to detect any suspicious spots.
All Australians should become familiar with their skin so you pick up any changes that might suggest a skin cancer.
Look all over your body and check all of your skin, not just sun-exposed areas for:
- any crusty, non-healing sores
- small lumps that are red, pale or pearly in colour
- new spots, freckles or any moles changing in colour, thickness or shape over a period of weeks to months (especially those dark brown to black, red or blue-black in colour).
If you notice anything unusual or any changes make an appointment with Proactive Skin Check to see a doctor as soon as possible. At your appointment your doctor will undertake a dermoscopy examination and may perform a biopsy by removing a small sample of tissue for subsequent examination under a microscope by a laboratory.
The sooner a skin cancer is identified and treated, the better your chance of avoiding surgery or, in the case of a serious melanoma or other skin cancer, potential disfigurement or even death.