Sunscreen, hats, sunglasses and staying in the shade are all sensible ways to protect the skin but regardless of how well you cover up, regular skin checks are also recommended.
While checking your own skin at home should be done every three months, getting a professional opinion is strongly advised.
Dr Mary Boyling of Australian Skin Cancer Clinics in Maitland says,
“I would recommend people consider having a professional check their skin every twelve months, particularly those at higher risk of skin cancer and melanoma.
I would recommend people consider having a professional check their skin.Dr Mary Boyling
“These include people with fair skin, people with many moles, people with depressed immune systems, people who have a lot of exposure to the sun, or that have a personal or family history of melanoma.”
Anyone who has previously used tanning beds also increases their risk of skin cancers and melanoma.
Melanomas, Dr Boyling says, can be difficult to diagnose so having a trained professional check your skin is ideal. And while there is no recommended age to start checking skin, it is important to note that while the number of melanomas in younger people is low, they are often deadly.
“Skin cancer clinics are well set up to perform skin checks as the practitioners generally have postgraduate training to assist in the early diagnosis and management of skin cancers,” explains Dr Boyling.
An appointment for a skin check generally lasts around 15 minutes. During the appointment the doctor will enquire about general health and medications, past sun exposure and family history to help determine the risk for a skin cancer.
Clients are asked to remove clothing down to their underwear and the doctor will carefully check their skin . Any areas of concern beneath underwear will be checked if the client requests, and a scalp check will be performed if there are any concerns in this area.
Examinations are conducted in a well lit room , with the use of a device called a dermatoscope which assists with accurate diagnosis of skin lesions .
If any skin lesions of concern are located the doctor will arrange for biopsy or excision . This may be performed at the clinic or referral arranged to a surgeon if necessary . Some skin lesions may have more than one suitable treatment option and this will be discussed if appropriate .