Why you should have your skin check


Welcome to East Toowoomba Skin Cancer Clinic. We are dedicated to the early detection and treatment of skin cancers. Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. Melanoma, or cancer of pigment cells is the most lethal of the skin cancers we see regularly .

Although it is the most well publicised skin cancer, it is not as common as Basal Cell Cancers, or Squamous Cell Cancers. All these cancers can be lethal, and all are treated more easily and successfully when detected early in their development.

The best method of early detection is to have a comprehensive skin examination on a regular basis. Usually this is recommended every year, but advice will vary depending on your skin type, family history, and personal history. The age of first skin check is also variable, but certainly any Caucasian over the age of 30 years would be advised to have a check. Those people with lots of moles, fair skin, excessive sun exposure, or strong family history of skin cancer should start regular skin checks earlier.

A comprehensive skin examination takes about 20 to 40 minutes depending in your skin. It involves the doctor using a variety of magnification devices to be able to see your skin in more detail and under different lighting conditions. Treatment for some lesions may be done on the day.

If there is any concern about the diagnosis of a lesion a biopsy may be performed. Some early cancers can be diagnosed and treated quite adequately with a small scrape, or “shave biopsy”. If cancers are more advanced, or of a more aggressive nature, excision may be required.

This procedure will usually be done at a different appointment from your comprehensive skin examination.

There are a few additional techniques which can improve the early detection of skin cancers, and these are offered by this clinic.

Total Body Photography is a technique which uses photography to provide a baseline of what lesions you have on your skin. Reference to this baseline set of photographs allows early detection of lesions which may be cancers even before they look like cancers. Repeat photography may be necessary depending on your age, skin changes, and other factors.

MoleMax II imaging of specific lesions and short-term follow-up (usually at 3 monthly intervals) has been shown to be of great use in early detection of some melanomas.

“Comprehensive Skin Check” versus “Single Spot Check”

It is recommended that you have a comprehensive skin examination rather than just getting the doctor to examine the spots you are concerned about. About 80% of the cancers detected in this clinic are lesions the person did not know they had. Of all the spots people are concerned about, only about 20% turn out to be cancers. Despite this, it is important that you have any new or concerning spot looked at as soon as you become aware of it, however we recommend you have a comprehensive skin check at least every year. If you do have a concerning spot develop, please contact the clinic, and we will do our best to fit you in for a “single lesion check” as soon as possible.

At the time of your skin check please ensure you are freshly showered, and have removed any make-up, tinted moisturiser or sunscreen, and bulky jewellery.