Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Australia, with 2 in 3 Australians diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70. While there has been a slight decline in the rates of skin cancer in the past 10 years, it is still important to be vigilant with protective and preventative measures to better reduce your risk of developing it.
Know your Body
It is essential to get to know your own skin; lump, bumps, and all! This will make it easier for you to notice any changes if they occur. Make a regular habit of checking your skin for new or changing spots. When checking your skin, ensure you check your entire body as skin cancers can still occur in parts of the body not exposed to the sun. This includes the bottom of your feet, between fingers and toes or under nails. To make it easier to check the hard to see areas of your skin, try standing in front of a mirror or having a friend or family member assist.
Checking your Skin
How often you should check your skin depends on your skin’s risk for developing skin cancers.
Low Risk: Those with an average to low risk tend to tan rather than burn; have olive to dark complexions or ≤ 40 years of age. These individuals should check their own skin at least once a year and have an opportunistic check with their GP.
Moderate Risk: Those with an increased risk tend to burn, have freckles, work outdoors, have a family history of skin cancer, solarium use and a history of multiple sunburns with blisters. These individuals should check their own skin at least 3 to 6 monthly and have opportunistic checks with their GP.
High Risk: Those with a high risk have very fair skin, red hair, family or personal history of melanoma, or immunosuppression. These individuals should check their skin 3-4 months and have a skin check with their doctor every 6 to 12 months.
When checking your skin, be on the look out for spots that lack symmetry, have irregular borders, are blotchy or different colours, or growing in size. If you do find any concerning spots, you should make an appointment with your GP for a skin check. Your GP can provide a through skin examination and offer advice on management of any concerning spots. Treatment for changing skin spots can include: surgery, cryotherapy, or creams.
If you have any concerns about unusual looking spots or lesions, plese book an appointment with your regular GP. If you don’t have one, please call the practice on 93704200 or make an appointment online via our website to see one of our experienced after hours Doctors.
For additional information regarding skin awareness around skin cancer, please click on the Cancer Council link.