How To Detect Skin Cancer Early On

Doctor Examining A Mole

Skin cancer is the most common cancer affecting Australians each year. In 2021, almost 17,000 Australians were diagnosed with melanoma, a figure making up 11.2% of all new cancer cases diagnosed that year. Research shows that early detection and treatment of skin cancer reduces a person’s need for surgery, decreases the likelihood of possible disfigurement, and improves their chance of survival. We’ve put together this handy guide to ensure you know of the signs to look out for.

Conduct skin checks

Detecting skin cancer early begins with knowing your skin. When you’re familiar with how your skin normally looks, you’ll be more likely to pick up any changes. Signs to look out for include changes in shape, size or colour of any lesion or mole, or a newly-developed lesion on your skin.

When you perform a skin check, make sure you check your whole body. Skin cancers can develop on parts of the body not usually exposed to the sun, such as on the soles of the feet, between the fingers and toes, and beneath the nails. Undress completely and ensure you have adequate light. A mirror can help you to see those difficult spots, such as your back or scalp; alternatively, a family member or friend can help you with your check.

Visit your doctor

Any areas of concern should be shown to your doctor as soon as possible. It’s important your doctor examines lesions using a dermoscope, which is a lens fitted with a light source offering a closer view of the skin. Your doctor will be able to address your questions and concerns and may refer you to a specialist if needed. You may see a dermatologist, who specialises in conditions affecting the skin. If you do need surgery, this may be performed by a general surgeon or by a doctor trained in surgery on cancerous growths.

Know your risks

Some people are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer, and it helps to know whether you fall into this category and what you can do to decrease your risk. People more likely to be affected by skin cancer often have:

  • fair, freckly skin
  • a tendency to burn rather than tan
  • lighter eye colour and hair
  • a higher number of unusual moles, also known as dysplastic naevi
  • a weakened immune system, which puts them at risk of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)
  • an immediate family member with melanoma
  • past personal history of skin cancer

Your doctor can help you understand your risks. If you’re at a higher risk of developing skin cancer, you may require more frequent skin checks.

Get in touch

If you’ve developed a worrying area on your skin, are concerned about your skin cancer risk, or would like to learn more about how you can protect your skin, visit our friendly team at Mooney Street Medical. Conveniently located in Gulliver, our modern, well-equipped practice offers a great range of services for patients of all ages. Our team members pride themselves on delivering outstanding, compassionate medical care and quality health education. Contact us today at (07) 4779 3055.