Skin Cancer Checks
At Mermaid Central Medical Clinic our doctors see and treat many patients every year with skin cancer and sun related skin disorders. Skin cancers can occur anywhere on the body. Our accredited doctors, who have a diploma in Skin Cancer Medicine, offer all patients a full head to toe skin check. They are registered with the Skin Cancer College Australasia, the peak body representing and supporting primary skin care practitioners in Australasia (http://www.skincancercollege.org). Please find the following information about skin cancers and other lesions:
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer and is associated with a history of multiple sunburns. Each year in Australia, nearly 10,000 new cases are diagnosed, with 1,200 people dying from this disease every year. Melanoma develops over weeks to months. If untreated, cancer cells may spread to other parts of the body. If treated early, 95% are cured. It may appear as a new spot, or an existing? spot, freckle or mole that changes in colour, size or shape. It usually has an irregular or smudgy outline and is more than one colour. A melanoma can be black, pink, purple, red, multicoloured and even pale. Melanoma may grow over weeks to months, anywhere on the body.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Is not as dangerous as melanoma but may spread to other parts of the body ifnot treated.A thickened red, scaly spot. Later itmay bleed easily or ulcerate.Usually appears on sites most often exposed tothe sun.Usually grows over some months.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
It the most common and least dangerous skin cancer. May appear as a lump or scaling area.Is red, pale or pearly in colour.As it grows it may become ulceratedlike an unhealing sore or one that healsthen breaks down again.Grows slowly, usually on the head,neck and upper chest.
Is not skin cancer, but a warning that you may be more prone to melanoma.Often flat, fairly large moles which share some of the features of early melanoma.Characterised by irregular boarders anduneven colour with multiple shades of brown and sometimes pink.
Is not a skin cancer but a warning that you are prone to developing skin cancer.Characterised by red, flattish, scaling areas which may sting if scratched. Sunspots appear on sun exposed skin in people over 40 years of age.
Freckles and Moles
Freckles are harmless coloured spots?that range in size from 1 to 10mm.Moles are evenly coloured and may be raised although they do not have to be. Moles have clear, even edges and are usually circular or oval in shape.
By the age of 60, most people have at least one or two of these. They have a very discrete edge and frequently sit up on top of the skin. Colour varies from pale skin through orange to black. Size varies from few millimetres to 2cm.
SunSmart recommends five steps to protect against sun damage when the UV index is 3 or above:
- Slip on some sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
- Slop on SPF (Sun Protection Factor) 50+ sunscreen make sure it is broad spectrum (protects against UVA and UVB rays) and water resistant. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and reapply every two hours. Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun.
- Slap on a hat that protects your face, head, neck and ears.
- Seek shade.
- Slide on some sunglasses make sure they meet Australian Standard AS1067.
Extra care should be taken between 10am and 3pm when UV levels reach their peak.
Check your skin regularly, at least every three months.
If you find a spot and notice any of the following, please see your doctor:
A: Asymmetry (unevenness) one half of the spot doesnt match the other.
B: Border the edges of the spot are irregular, ragged, notched or blurred.
C: Colour the colour of the spot is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, red, white or blue.
D: Diameter the spot is larger than 6mm across (about 1/4 inch) or is growing larger.
E: Evolution and/or elevation the spot may change in shape or size (enlarge) and a flat spot may become raised in a matter of a few weeks.
Also be aware of any mole or freckle that:
Changes over a period of months
Grows in size
Becomes mottled in colour
Has a persistent itch.
If you notice anything new or unusual on your skin, see your doctor.