Skin Cancer screening will detect skin cancer lesions early so it is important to regularly exam your own skin. Your dermatologist will explain how to do this. Skin cancer has a high cure rate when detected early.
One helpful tool is to take photographs of your skin or to have professional photographs taken. This way you can simply compare your skin to your photographs. If there is a difference between your skin and your photographs in any area then it is important to see your doctor.
Australia has a high instance of skin cancer in the world. Non-melanoma skin cancers in Australia are more common than any other cancer. It is for these reasons that self-examination and also an examination by a doctor is warranted, particularly if you are over the age of 60 when this incidence is higher.
You should consider having a skin check if you are at a higher risk of skin cancer. This would involve you having a yearly check with a doctor and 3-monthly self-examination. This is recommended for people with the following:
- Red hair
- Type 1 skin (very fair) and aged more than 45
- Type 2 skin (fair) and aged more than 65
- Family history of melanoma in a first-degree relative in patients aged more than 15 years
- More than 100 naevi (moles)
- Past history of melanoma
- Past history of non-melanoma skin cancer or more than 20 solar keratoses (sunspots). Australian Family Physician July 2012, Volume 41, No 7, Pages 464-469
Your dermatologist will first ask you a few questions about your past medical and skin history. This includes whether you have had a skin cancer before or whether any family member has had a skin cancer. They will also ask you whether you have any concerns regarding your skin. Your dermatologist takes a systematic approach to examining your skin. They wear magnifying loops or use a dermatoscope to assist in this examination. Photographs are often taken as well. This is for monitoring. Dermatologists are highly trained in skin examinations and can recognise abnormal features rapidly and accurately. If a suspicious lesion is found, then your dermatologist will discuss this with you and also management options which may include a biopsy.