The incidence of skin cancer in Australia is one of the highest in the world, so regular skin health checks should be a part of any proactive health regime.
The doctors of Affinity Family Medical can perform checks for skin cancer and provide information that may help reduce your risk.
Performing Skin Health Checks
One way of complementing the checks made by your GP is to perform self-examinations, the regularity of which will be determined by your specific risk factors. The pigmentation of your skin, your history of sunburn and exposure to the sun, along with your family’s history of skin cancer, are all factors that will be used to determine your skin cancer risk.
Regardless of whether or not your risk is high, it is important to know how to identify the early signs of skin cancer. After all your risk might be low, but at some point, you may have the responsibility of checking the skin of someone else.
Identifying Potential Skin Cancers
Skin cancer signs will vary, but often present as a growth or lump on the skin. Although they can be hard to detect these are some changes to look out for. To make it easier to remember the signs of skin cancer, they can be applied to the first five letters of the alphabet. These are the following warning signs versus what is considered normal.
- A – Asymmetry – two halves don’t match vs an even round or oval shape
- B – Border – uneven and notched versus smooth and even
- C – Color – multiple colours and shades versus a single colour and shade
- D – Diameter or Dark – larger than 6mm in diameter or is darker than other spots versus smaller and more consistent
- E – Evolving – change in size, shape, colour or other changes like bleeding and itching vs staying the same
In basic terms, anything new, changing or unusual should be flagged and then tracked. Charting the progress of these spots and moles is wise, as any concerns can be raised at your next consultation.
Diagnosis And Treatment
If at your appointment a skin spot or lump is identified as potential skin cancer, your doctor may conduct a biopsy or recommend additional tests to determine the extent of cancer. Knowing this can then help determine which treatment options will be most effective.
Common treatment may involve the freezing of small, less established skin cancers with liquid nitrogen. Surgery may be appropriate in some cases but this can be discussed with your doctor beforehand to ensure you are informed of the process and what options are available.
Proactive Skin Health
As a country with the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, it is no surprise that Australian’s are now well versed in the importance of proactive skin protection.
This is in part thanks to the ‘Slip Slop Slap’ sun protection campaign of the 1980’s. Since then ’Seek and Slide’ have been added. In full this skin cancer awareness massage translates as;
- Slip on a shirt
- Slop on sunscreen
- Slap on a hat
- Seek the shade
- Slide on sunglasses
These five simple actions can go a long way in protecting ourselves from the sun and so reducing the risk of skin cancer.
Should you wish to make an appointment you can book online or contact our friendly reception staff.