It is never too early to recognise a potential skin cancer.
We recommend annual skin checks with one of our doctors who has a special interest in skin cancer medicine. The frequency of checks may vary depending on your risks and skin type.
To organise your skin check appointment please call the clinic or book online. Please avoid the use of moisturisers and make-up on the day of your examination.
The Skin Clinic operates a proactive digital reminder system and will usually contact you via email or sms to remind you when you’re due for your skin check. Please ensure your email address and mobile number is up to date in our records. If for some reason you do not receive a reminder please call us or an appointment or book online.
Skin cancer is an uncontrolled and unusual growth of abnormal cells in the skin. Skin cancer occurs when normal skin cells are damaged, for example, cumulative exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) from sunburn. About 98% skin cancers in Australia are caused by exposure to UV radiation of the sun. About 2% of skin cancers(including melanoma) occur where there has been no sun exposure. Therefore, you must see your skin doctor if you are worried about a new or changing spot/mole even if it is in an area that has never been sunburnt (or never sees the sun).
There are three main types of skin cancer:
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
The main cause the skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. The Australian climate and fair skin in particular are a poor mix. Other sources of UV radiation, such as solarium tanning beds, also causes skin cancer.
In rare situations, skin cancer appears where you never have been exposed to sun. The available research suggests that while skin cells are often damaged in childhood, it may be sun exposure in adulthood that triggers these damaged cells to turn into cancerous lesions.
Anyone can develop skin cancer, regardless of their skin type, colour or general wellbeing. This is why it is so important to find a reliable skin cancer doctor with whom you can discuss your risk and plan regular skin surveillance.
One in three Australians can expect to develop some type of skin cancer in their lifetime. Early detection is the best way to improve the outcome for these cancers. Melanoma is by far the most dangerous type of skin cancer. To assess your individual risk of melanoma, see the melanoma risk calculator on the Victorian melanoma service website.
You should seek urgent medical advice from your skin cancer doctor if you have a mole or spot that;
You should see your skin cancer doctor if you have:
At your initial skin check, a doctor with specific postgraduate training in skin cancer diagnosis will take a thorough history and then conduct a comprehensive examination of your skin surfaces, assessing suspicious lesions.
For a proper examination you will be asked to undress to your underwear (be assured, your privacy is protected at all times). We use a hand held dermatoscope (basically a strong microscope for viewing the skin) to check your skin for unusual lesions, spots or blemishes.
If there is any need for follow up visits, biopsy or skin surgery we will advise you as soon as possible. In some cases, suspicious lesions require a skin biopsy first and surgical removal under local anaesthetics.
Research shows about 80% of melanomas appear as new spots on the skin, and about 20% will arise from an existing mole. By keeping track of their size, shape and colour we can quickly identify when things are not right and take quick action if required.
Those who have the greatest risk are those with:
Check Your Own Skin Regularly
Even skin that has never been exposed to the sun has the potential to develop skin cancer. Regular check ups mean early detection, and early detection is the key to beating skin cancers. Most skin cancers are detected by people themselves or by close family members.
Unlike many other cancers, skin cancer is often visible, making it easier to detect in the early stages. We recommend you undertake your own full body skin check regularly, because skin cancers can occur on parts of the body not exposed the sun.
If you are worried about any mole, spot or freckle, please see your skin cancer doctor for an advice.
Protect Your Skin From Sun Damage
Protect your skin from ultraviolet (UV) radiation as 98% of skin cancers are caused by the sun. We recommend using UV index to know when to protect your skin from sunburn. The UV index shows the intensity of the UV radiation emitted by the sun. It’s part of most weather reports these days.
The daily SunSmart UV Alert identifies the sun protection times for more than 200 locations across Australia. You can check the SunSmart UV alert on the weather page of most daily Newspapers, via a free app for smartphones or on the SunSmart website.
When the UV index is 3 or above, we recommend you: