Dermatologist checking mole on woman

When was the Last Time you had a Skin Check?

Did you know around two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70? With skin cancers accounting for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers and more than 750,000 people treated for one or more non-melanoma skin cancers in Australian skin cancer clinics each year, our sunny weather and love of being outside is causing us some serious harm.

When it comes to skin cancer, it’s important to remember that it takes a lot more than slip, slop, slap for long-term protection against the sun’s harsh UV rays. So with summer just around the corner, it is time for us to stay on top of our freckles, moles and sunspots and get reacquainted with the annual skin check.

What is Skin Cancer and its Symptoms?

Skin cancer occurs when skin cells are damaged, for example, by overexposure to the sun’s UV rays. With three main types of skin cancer – basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma – both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers are a major health concern for both adults and children, and anyone can be at risk (however this risk increases as you get older).

Skin cancer can appear anywhere on the body, particularly in areas that are largely exposed to the sun. It is important to become familiar with the look of your skin, so you can pick up on any changes that might suggest a skin cancer. You should see your doctor when you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Any changes on the skin
  • Have a sore, cut or scratch that does not heal
  • A new mole, lump or spot appears
  • An existing mole changes colour, size, shape or has started to itch or bleed
  • A spot or lump bleeds when rubbed

When Should I Get Checked?

GPs have over 1 million patient consultations per year for skin cancer. Known as the skin cancer capital of the world with one of the highest rates of skin cancer, any Australian could be at risk of developing skin cancer. Therefore regular 12 month assessments are recommended for the majority of Australian adults as part of their health maintenance.

Stay safe and check your skin regularly, then see your doctor if you notice any changes. Pay close attention to any moles on your face, scalp, arms, legs and neck as these areas are particularly susceptible and can rapidly alter in appearance due to regular UV exposure.

What are my Treatment Options?

Skin cancer varies in form and treatment depending on where it is located, the type of cancer it is and how far the disease has spread. As the cancer becomes more prevalent, the need for advanced equipment and tools increases.

The most common treatment for skin cancer is surgery. Skin cancers are almost always removed and in more advanced cases, some surrounding tissue may also be removed to make sure all the cancerous cells have been taken out.

The sooner a skin cancer is identified and treated, the better your chance of avoiding surgery or, in the case of serious melanoma, potential disfigurement or even death. It is also a good idea to talk to your doctor about your level of risk and for advice on early detection.

St John Medical has skin cancer clinics in all four of our Perth locations – Cannington, Joondalup, Cockburn and Armadale. Our doctors are trained in skin cancer diagnosis and management and our fully equipped state-of-the-art technology allows us to review the skin lesion at up to 40 times magnification. This provides additional opportunities for comprehensive diagnosis and treatment as well as added peace of mind for you.

When was the last time you had your skin checked? To book an appointment, please contact us today.

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