Why regular skin checks, mole maps and scans are so important.
Summer is officially here! As we all check that we have the most appropriate pigment serums and sunscreens, we should also be checking the skin on our body for pigment changes too. Welcome to the very important, check yourself or get checked, conversation.
Unfortunately, skin cancer is non-discriminatory and can present in those of at any age, and especially those living on the beautiful east coast of Australia.
2 in 3 Australians will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer by the time they are 70 years old.
A shocking statistic that is unfortunately very true (thank you for sharing Cancer Council Australia).
Usually we grow all our moles as a child and therefore as an adult, new moles are cause for investigation. Particularly if there is a history of skin cancer in the family, you work outdoors, you’ve had a few blistering sunburns or had a bad habit of using solariums.
Melanoma is the most dangerous of the skin cancers. It grows rapidly and can appear anywhere on the body, between the toes, under the nails, anywhere. Often these are the “ugly” moles, dark and obvious and not always on sun exposed areas of the body. Treatment is mostly excision or combination therapy.
Then we have basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) which can range from a tiny pearly dot to a red crusty lesion, with or without pigment. Because the appearance of these doesn’t always seem exceptionally alarming, people may not be inclined to have them checked out. BCC and SCCs can become very dangerous when left untreated.
Treatment can vary, but often without treatment large excision may be necessary.
What does this all mean you ask?
If you have a mole or a spot that is new, you MUST have it checked.
Skin cancer is often non-symptomatic which is why we advocate for regular skin checks with your dermatologist or skin cancer doctor. As Dermal Clinicians we notice change and refer you on, we cannot diagnose.
Typically with our scope of therapies, we concentrate mainly on the face, and most skin cancers are not fund here. That’s why you must rely on your yourself, GP or Dermatologist to check everywhere else regularly.
If we do happen to notice a suspicious area, and you’re in Melbourne, we refer you on to the amazing Dr Alice Rudd and team at Skindepth Dermatology in St Kilda East.
A skin check with a doctor or specialist will be thorough, very very thorough. Expect an inspection from the hair on your head to the soles of your feet, and most places in between.
There are also very sophisticated technologies around these days which scan your body with a camera, and compare images from previous scans to detect any changes. Mole Mapping is a great way to keep on top of your checks, but if you have an area of concern, a Doctor’s medical opinion is necessary.
How often should you get skin checks?
Well, Dr Rudd suggests that the appropriate frequency of a skin check is dependent on individual risk factors and presence of other cancers. If a melanoma or skin cancer is found, you will be having regular checks for a number of years.
Ultimately, we live in a beautiful part of the world where skin cancer is rife.
Did you know that those living in Australia are 2 to 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with skin cancer when compared to countries like the US, UK and Canada?
*The Cancer Council, 2019.
Early detection means early treatment and, in some cases, saving your life.
So now that we’re getting serious, when was your last skin check?