A skin check can compliment the care taken with skin protection when out in the sun. A skin check looks for evidence of skin cancer and can be performed by your doctor. Self examination for skin cancers is also important as the sooner skin cancer can be picked up and treated, the better.
With a skin check consultation, your GP will discuss your level of skin cancer risk based on family history of skin cancer. The will also take into consideration your skin type, history of sunburn, previous use of solariums, along with your average daily exposure to the sun. This is the followed by an examination and advice on how best to perform your own skin check at home.
This self examination for irregular skin spots and moles is important, as it can be done more regularly. Also by getting to know what is normal for your skin, it may make it easier to identify any changes.
Your GP can assist in knowing what to look for with these changes and the basic signs of skin cancer. In addition it useful when performing our own skin check to identify skin spots that may be of less concern, such as normal sun damage or a harmless mole.
As Australia has one of the highest rates of melanoma, so a regular skin check for this most deadly form of skin cancer, is time well spent. But what to look for? The ABCDE guide that describes common characteristics of
melanoma is a good place to start, as anything that fits into these categories can be monitored and if need be, followed up with your doctor.
The ABCDE signs are;
- Asymmetry rather than a regular or balanced shaped mole or spot
- Borders that are uneven, crusty, notched or undefined
- Color that is spread unevenly, has multiple colours, or is more than one shade.
- Diameter greater than 6mm – about the width of pencil, although they can be smaller
- Evolving in size, shape or colour, and even one that bleeds, itches or scabs
There are two other types of non-melanoma skin cancer, and although malignant and making up the majority of skin cancers, they are less likely to spread to other parts of the body. The melanoma, while not the most common or skin cancers, causes the most deaths, but if picked up early has a good chance of being curable.
During your skin check, your GP may also identify other skin conditions of concern, in which case they can refer you to a dermatologist.