Skin Cancer Check

We recommend that all adults have a regular full skin cancer check that includes using dermoscopy. We are dedicated to treating any concerning skin lesions, skin cancers using a dermatoscope and or a high resolution digital dermatoscope for conducting local mole scanning and full body mole mapping.

“Our mission is the early detection and treatment of skin cancers”

Our MoleMax HD Pro system is a state of art high resolution imaging dermatoscope machine, designed to capture clear and detailed digital micro skin images, archiving and diagnosis of moles and any other suspicious skin lesions. This technology is world leading from Austria and allows for even earlier diagnosis and treatment of skin cancers.

Monitoring moles and other suspicious skin lesions is an important step in detecting skin cancer, especially malignant melanoma. MoleMax HD Pro, has the power and accuracy to detect very early skin cancer/melanomas, the new, changing and/or suspicious skin lesions, by monitoring and comparing the images over time. The MoleMax HD Pro enhances what can be seen on the skin at a micro level for assisting with the analysis of a diagnoses, which in turn reduces unnecessary excisions.

An annual skin check enables us to compare changes against your previous skin check to detect early changes. Skin cancer found early can usually be treated successfully. However, if left untreated, skin cancer can be fatal. It is important to get to know your skin and what is normal for you so changes will be noticed quickly. Skin cancer is often visible (but rarely painful) making it easier to detect in the early stages. Annual skin checks are a great way to detect early changes. All Australians should become familiar with their skin. Check all your skin, not just sun-exposed areas.

2 out of 3 Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70

Are you at risk?

Who is at risk and should seek to have a full skin cancer check?

  • Spent your childhood in Australia?
  • Have been sunburnt multiple times in your life?
  • Fair skin that burns easily?
  • Blue or green eyes?
  • Fair or red hair?
  • Work outdoors and have a lot of sun exposure.
  • Have recreational activities that involves a lot of sun exposure.
  • Over 50 years with skin that burns easily after 10 – 20 minutes in the sun.
  • Have many moles? / Development of a new mole.
  • Family history of melanoma in a first degree relative aged 15 years+.
  • History with previous skin cancer.
  • Have had an organ transplant.
  • Chemical exposure of certain chemicals, including arsenic, industrial tar, coal, paraffin and certain types of industrial oils.

Book your skin cancer check today with Camden South Family Doctors

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is damage to the DNA inside skin cells, causing them to mutate into cancerous cells. These cancers, also known as carcinomas and melanomas, continue to grow and often spread to other parts of the body if they are not removed quickly. There are different types of skin cells, each with their own specific type of cancer. These cancers (and the cells they affect) are known as basal cell carcinomas (BCC – about 75% of all skin cancers), squamous cell carcinomas (SCC – about 20% of all skin cancers), and melanoma (the most serious type accounting for about 5% of all skin cancers). Because of their differences in location and skin type, these cancers look and grow differently from one another.

What does skin cancer look like?

Each of the three main types of skin cancer can appear differently, though there are often similarities as well. One of the most common ways of recognising a skin cancer is in the appearance of a new skin mark, such as a mole. Similarly, changes in shape, size or colour to an existing mole is also a common sign of skin cancer.

Specifically, skin cancers mostly appear as follows:

Basal Cell Carcinomas (BCC)
Basal cell carcinomas are often dry, hard and scaly areas that are noticeably red (often with pearly nodules). These lesions (which can also be brown, blue or black) are mostly found in nodular basal cell carcinomas. Basal cell carcinomas often looks like a sore that does not completely heal (which occurs when the carcinoma ulcerates as it grows) and as a result of their slower rate of growth are the most treatable form of skin cancer. About half of BCC recur after 5 years.

Squamous Cell Carcinomas (SCC)
Squamous cell carcinomas are not as dangerous as melanomas, but may spread to other parts of the body if not treated. They grow over a period of months, appearing on areas of skin most exposed to sunlight (such as the face, lips, neck and back). While they are also similar looking to basal cell carcinomas – often red and scaly, ulcerated or crusty – they are more likely to spread than basal cell carcinoma. The cancerous lesions may also appear any number ways, and blood vessels are often present at the edge of the lesion. About half of SCC recur after 5 years.

Melanoma

  • While melanoma is the least common type of skin cancer, it is the most life-threatening form of skin cancer.
  • 1,774 died from Melanoma in 2016.
  • Melanoma is also one of the most common cancers affecting youth in Australia.

Superficial spreading melanomas are one of the most commonly-diagnosed forms of melanoma and can develop in any region of the skin. They are usually raised around the edges, has an irregular outline and can be any number of colours, from red and pink, to brown, grey or blue. They grow over weeks to months and can appear anywhere on the body.

Acral lentiginous lesions usually develop on the hands and feet and are characterised by flat tumours that are usually dark in colour – brown or black.

Lentigo maligna melanomas are mostly found on the face and are recognisable by an irregular border. They are usually tan to brown in colour.

Nodular melanomas are highly dangerous and look different to common melanomas. Their appearance is more raised and they are often brown, red or pink in colour. Nodular melanomas can be life-threatening if not detected and removed promptly.

Other Spots

There are also other spots that are not skin cancer, but may act as warning signs.

Dysplastic Naevi
Dysplastic Naevi appear as flat, medium to large moles, anywhere on the body. They are characterised by irregular borders and uneven colour with multiple shades of brown to pink. Dysplastic Naevi are an indication that a person is more prone to melanoma.

Solar Keratoses
Solar Keratoses appear as red, flattish, scaly areas that may sting if scratched. They are a warning sign that a person is more prone to developing skin cancer.

Seborrhoeic Keratoses
Seborrhoeic Keratoses have a very distinct edge and frequently sit on top of the skin. The colour varies from pale through to orange and black. Their size can be from a few millimetres up to two centimetres.

Moles
Moles are evenly coloured, may be raised and have clear edges. They are usually circular or oval in shape.

Freckles
Freckles are harmless coloured spots that range in size from one to ten millimetres. They indicate that the sun has damaged the skin.

Check your skin regularly

If you notice anything unusual, including any change in shape, colour, size, and/or the development of a new spot – then visit your doctor as soon as possible.

Whilst we must remember that there are some rare forms of skin cancer which cannot be found early, the good news is that most skin cancers can be prevented or found early.

What are the Signs of Skin Cancer?

It is very important to note that pain and bleeding are usually much later symptoms of skin cancers, and therefore an absence of pain or bleeding is not a sign that there is no problem. There are a variety of different skin cancer signs. In the case where a mole is pre-existing, changes to its size, colour or shape (or the shape of its border) indicate the presence of skin cancer. If a new mole has appeared out of nowhere, this is also cause for concern, as it can indicate the presence of skin cancer. Other physical indicators are areas of skin that do not heal, ulceration and discolouration.

How is Skin Cancer Treated?

Most skin cancers require surgical removal. This is to fully remove the cancer and stop it from spreading to other parts of the body. When any form of skin cancer is found, our doctors will sample (biopsy) the affected tissue and send it to a pathologist for analysis. If the disease is in the advanced stages there may be some further action required.

With squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas, a safe margin of healthy tissue is removed to try and prevent any recurrence of the cancer at the original area. This tissue is usually taken when the carcinoma is removed. In cases of recurrence, particularly with basal cell carcinomas, a technique known as Moh’s surgery may be employed. This is a method of obtaining complete margin control during removal of a skin cancer which allows for a very narrow surgical margin and a high cure rate.

Melanomas are usually assessed microscopically, the results of which, dictate further treatment. Sometimes, a further excision of the skin is conducted (such as sentinel lymph node biopsy) to use for more detailed examinations.

Very superficial basal cell carcinomas and pre-malignant conditions such as Bowen’s disease and Actinic Keratoses can also be treated with other means such as with common vinegar or topical creams (5 FluroUracil, Imiquamod, Solaraze), cryotherapy (freezing with liquid nitrogen) or photodynamic therapy (light activation of a topical cream).

How do I protect myself from skin cancer?

The most effective way to prevent skin cancer is to avoid getting too much direct sunlight, particularly during the hottest hours of 10am – 5pm. Being indoors is obviously maximum protection, but outdoors it is advisable to seek shade (under a tree, or using an umbrella for instance). If contact with direct sunlight is unavoidable, using sunscreen is highly recommended to help reduce the risk of skin cancer. Sunscreen comes with an SPF value that indicates its strength against UV radiation. SPF 30+ only allows 1/30th of UV radiation to reach the skin, for example. The paler your skin, the more protection you will need to prevent sunburn (and the risk of cancer).

For the purpose of measuring response to sunburn, there are seven different skin types:

  • Type 1 and 2 (such as people with Nordic or Celtic blood, fair and red-headed people) burn easily, tan only slightly and have a high cancer risk. People with type 1 and 2 should always use a minimum SPF of 30, and are advised to spend as little time in the summer sun as possible.
  • Skin types 3 and 4 have a moderate to low cancer risk, encompassing the vast majority of Europeans, Mediterraneans and paler-skinned Asians. People with type 3 or 4 should use a minimum SPF of 15, though 30 is still safer.
  • Skin types 5 – 7 are predominantly dark Asians and Africans, who have a very low cancer risk and rarely burn due to their high levels of melanin. These skin types are very resistant to sunburn, though sunscreen may still help prevent skin ageing in such cases.

Evidence suggests that childhood sun exposure contributes significantly to your lifetime risk of skin cancer. Cancer Council Australia recommends keeping babies out of the sun as much as possible for the first 12 months.

Useful Links and Websites

SunSmart
http://www.sunsmart.com.au/

Sun Safety in Queensland Fact Sheet
http://www.sunsafety.qld.gov.au/

Cancer Council Australia
http://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/types-of-cancer/skin-cancer.html

Melanoma Institute Australia
http://www.melanoma.org.au/

Melanoma of the Skin
https://melanoma.canceraustralia.gov.au/

HealthDirect – Skin Cancer and Melanomas
https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/skin-cancer-and-melanomas

Skin Cancer Statistics
http://www.aihw.gov.au/cancer/