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Self-examination

In areas like Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast, thousands of people enjoy our outdoor lifestyle, and are exposed to a lot of UV radiation  each year. Considering Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world and one in two Australians will develop skin cancer each year, you should be sun smart and undertake routine skin checks regularly.

It is strongly recommended that you examine your own skin every two to three months to get into a routine along with your yearly skin check by your GP, skin cancer specialist or Dermatologist. Examination is recommended monthly if you have a known history of skin cancer.

Conducting your own skin exam can be the best way in detecting the early warning signs of cancer. By doing your own skin check you can keep track of your skin health and report any changes to your doctor immediately.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Skin Checks

Video provided courtesy of LEO Pharma

Self Examination – Skin Cancer Check

 

  • Self skin checks can add another safety level to regular skin checks by your skin cancer doctor, GP, or Specialist Dermatologist
  • New or changing moles may herald early changes of melanoma
  • Symptoms such as itch, pain or bleeding may also suggest skin cancer
  • New spots should always be checked out to exclude skin cancer
  • Not all skin cancers, including melanomas are brown or black- some melanomas are red scaly patches
  • Remember to check all area of your body, including the scalp, nail beds, and between your digits. Skin cancers can occur in sun protected areas
  • Simple photography conducted by you or your partner can also help with self monitoring of skin lesions
  • If in doubt, always consult a professional early- before it is too late
  • Skin cancer picked up early has a much higher survival rate than late pick up skin cancers

What to look out for when conducting a skin check?

Self skin check

Remember a mole doesn‘t always have to be brown and raised to be skin cancer – some skin cancers may be flat, pink, scaly or pearly.

Keep an eye out for the appearance of a new spot or mole, a mole that looks different to those around it, a mole or spot that has changed in appearance. Look for any skin sore that shows no signs of healing within 3-4 weeks.

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)

These are the most common type of skin cancer, and they may look like an ulcerated sore that does not heal.

A nodular BCC looks pearly, and is a well-defined, pink or brown lump that is less than 1cm in size

Superficial BCC present as a dry, red, raised patch.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)

Are usually scaly, crusty, red lesions that feel tender or sore. They might bleed and look like an ulcer.

Melanoma

Look for the ABCDE criteria of melanoma

A – Asymmetry, one side of the mole looks different from the other

B – Border, ragged or irregular outlines

C – Colour uneven colour with varying shades of brown or, sometimes, areas of white, grey, red, pink or blue

D – Diameter, Melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the size of the eraser on your pencil (about 6 mm), but they may sometimes be smaller when first detected.

E – Evolution, change in appearance over time.

Additional hints:

It is really important that you have good lightning

Examine carefully your face, particularly the nose, lips, mouth and the front and back of your ears.

If it is possible ask a family member or a friend to help you to examine those hard-to-see areas, such as your back, back of the neck, scalp and back of your thighs.

If you are female, lift your breasts to view the underside.