The Answers You Need
HOW COMMON IS SKIN CANCER IN AUSTRALIA?
Approximately, two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70. Non-melanoma skin cancer is more common in men, with almost double the incidence compared to women.
Excluding non-melanoma skin cancer,* melanoma is the third most common cancer in Australians. In 2014, 13,134 Australians were diagnosed with melanoma.
Every year, in Australia:
skin cancers account for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers
the majority of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun
GPs have over 1 million patient consultations per year for skin cancer
the incidence of skin cancer is one of the highest in the world, two to three times the rates in Canada, the US and the UK.
In 2015, 2162 people died from skin cancer in Australia, 1520 from melanoma and 642 from non-melanoma skin cancers.
*Non-melanoma skin cancers are not notified to cancer registries.
(Source: Cancer Council of Australia)
WHAT ARE SKIN CHECKS?
At the Cranbourne Skin Cancer Centre, a skin check is a full body examination performed using hand-held dermoscopy to assess every lesion on the body. The nurse (who are all trained in dermoscopy) performs a skin check first, before the doctor enters and performs a second skin check. A skin cancer treatment plan is discussed at the end of the consultation if necessary.
WHAT AGE SHOULD I BRING MY CHILD FOR A SKIN CHECK?
We recommend any age, particularly if there is something you are concerned about. Fortunately the incidence of melanoma in children is extremely low.
HOW FREQUENTLY SHOULD I BE CHECKED?
If you have no personal or family history of skin cancer, an annual skin check is sufficient. If you have a history of skin cancer, every 6-12 months is preferred.
If you have had a recent skin cancer, we would recommend a 3-month check, but if you have just been diagnosed with a melanoma then we recommend 3/12 checks for the first year following a melanoma diagnosis and 6 months for the second year. If no suspicious lesions are found within this 2-year period, annual checks are sufficient thereafter.
WHAT IS MELANOMA?
Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer and is the most common type of cancer in younger people. Melanomas originate from either an existing mole or arise as a new lesion in which resembles a mole. If melanoma is detected early it is almost completely curable, if not found early it can progress and travel to other parts of the body making it a life-threatening condition. Melanomas can appear anywhere on the face or body, not just sun-exposed areas which is a common misconception. Majority of melanomas are black or brown, but can be pink, blue, grey, skin-coloured, purple or white. They are often the stand-out mole amongst others or the “ugly duckling”. The main risk factors for melanoma are: having a lot of moles, personal or family history of melanoma, personal history of non-melanoma skin cancers (BCC’s or SCC’s), and pale skin with red hair (Fitzpatrick Skin Type I and II).
WHAT IS A BASAL CELL CARCINOMA (BCC)?
A Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer, but least risky type if caught early. It develops from an excessive amount of sun exposure. BCC’s often look like an open sore, scar, indent in the skin, scaly pink patch, shiny raised lesion, pink growth or red patch. There are various treatment options (ie. Excision, topical treatment, curettage and electrodessication, photodynamic therapy or cryosurgery) available for BCC’s and it depends on the sub-type of BCC.
WHAT IS A SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA (SCC)?
A Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the second most common type of skin cancer. It also progresses from excessive amounts of sun exposure. Squamous Cell Carcinomas develop from the squamous cells in the upper layer of the skin (epidermis). They often look like a pink scaly patch, a raised tender lesion, a raised growth with a central depression, a wart that bleeds or a keratotic horn. In extreme cases, they can become life-threatening if left to grow. Treatment options include excision, topical treatment, curettage and electrodessication, radiation, cryosurgery, photodynamic therapy.
WHAT ARE MY COSTS?
Please see our fees page.
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WHERE CAN I FIND OTHER RESOURCES?
Please click to find more information:
Cancer Council of Australia: Developed an international reputation for innovative work in cancer research, prevention and support. www.cancercouncil.com.au
Sunsmart: Jointly funded by Cancer Council Victoria and the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) since 1988, the SunSmart program leads the world in skin cancer prevention. www.sunsmart.com.au