Bulk Billing Doctors Kambah, Wanniassa, Isabella Plains, Gordon, Conder
With Australia having the worlds highest incidence of skin cancer, skin cancer checks are an essential part of a proactive approach to health and wellbeing.
The doctors at Greenway Medical Centre are ready to assist you in the checking of skin spots or lumps and moles, along information regarding the prevention of skin cancer.
After all, although two out of three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer at some point during their life, there are methods that can detect and actions that can help prevent, this type of cancer.
Tell-Tale Signs Of Skin Cancer
When it comes to skin cancer, we all have varying levels of risk. Knowing how to detect them will not only assist ourselves but those who we look after.
One of the keys to successful treatment of skin cancer is early detection. So it is critical that we check ourselves regularly in addition to the skin checks we receive from doctors.
For example, a basic warning sign of melanoma, a rarer but more aggressive type of skin cancer, is the ‘ugly duckling’ method. This works on the premise that most normal moles on our bodies look similar and that melanomas stand out by comparison, either as part of a group of moles or as an isolated spot.
Another method is to follow the first five letters of the alphabet. Each letter signifies a characteristic warning sign of melanoma.
- A = Asymmetry. Spots or moles look evenly round or oval. Uneven sides is an indicator.
- B = Border. Spots and moles have smooth, even borders. Uneven or rough edges are also an indicator.
- C = Colour. Single colour and one shade. Multiples of either is a warning sign.
- D = Diameter or Dark. A spot or mole bigger than 6mm wide or darker than the others could be a sign too.
- E = Evolving. A change in shape, size, width or height could be a sign of melanoma, as can itching, bleeding or crusting.
These methods provide a good guide but to complicate things, some melanoma develop in existing moles while others are missing pigment so may appear pinkish, reddish or even clear an colourless.
Also keep track of any new spots or moles that appear, especially if you are over 40 years of age.
Consulting a professional opinion can help determine if anything we have found should be investigated further. It also complements an individual’s efforts in that a trained eye such as a doctor can identify more subtle signs of melanoma and other skin cancers.
Skin Cancer Prevention
In tackling skin cancer we can also take into consideration how sun smart we are in the first place. ‘Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide’ is the mantra that has been used for decades to do just that. For those not familiar with what that stands for, it means to:
- Slip on sun-protective clothing
- Slop on SPF50+ broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen
- Slap on a broad-brimmed hat
- Seek shade or shelter from the sun
- Slide on sunglasses with UV protection
Taking these precautions is wise as the number of times we are burnt and the severity each time, is a contributing factor to skin cancer.
Of course, there are some risk factors that we cannot change such as our family history of skin cancer, a weakened immune system or having a fair or freckled complexion.
On the flip side those with no history of skin cancer or skin that has greater natural protection from the sun can still develop skin cancer. A combination of being sun smart and checking for skin cancer will go a long way in mitigating the effects associated with living under the Australian sun.
Skin Check Consultations
You can make an appointment with your doctor if you have unusual or bothersome skin changes that are of concern. As there is a lot to cover in a consultation it’s good to be prepared with some information beforehand.
A good start is to write down any symptoms you may be experiencing, questions you have and if it is the first time you have seen the doctor, family and personal medical history including any medication you are taking. Your doctor will have their own questions but at least you can ensure that any concerns you have beforehand can be discussed in the consultation.
If during the skin check your doctor determines that a spot or mole is suspicious, they may take a biopsy – that is, surgically remove the spot or mole so that it can be sent away for further examination. This will be discussed beforehand so that you are aware of what is happening. The benefit of having a biopsy is that the results will enable the doctor to determine the best course of action.
Should you have any concerns regarding how your skin check will be performed or how often you should have them, please discuss this with your doctor at the next appointment. Alternatively, if you would like a skin check or need to discuss a spot or mole that is worrying you, please make an appointment with our reception staff.