Early detection of a skin cancer is essential to reduce your risk of harm.
At Ministry of Skin we provide a service that aims to identify skin cancers early to ensure best possible outcomes through skin checks, monitoring, biopsies and treatments of any suspicious lesions.
Ministry of Skin is a RACGP accredited clinic.
At Ministry of Skin we recommend having a skin check with one of our doctors so you can discuss your individual risk factors, understand what to look for, when to seek help and ensure early detection. A skin check by a doctor is commonly recommended every 2-3 years however your individual characteristics may alter this.
To identify a melanoma we are trained to look for changes in a mole.
Moles are not normally present at birth, but appear in childhood and teenage years. By the age of 25 you should have all the moles you are going to acquire and none of them should be changing or growing. Most people have a signature mole appearance ie most moles on their body look similar.
We are therefore more suspicious of any new mole that develops after the age of 25 and a mole that does not fit your signature mole pattern or is changing eg. the ugly duckling. Features to pick in the ugly duckling are changes in a moles size, shape or colour or if a mole develops an irregular edge, more than one colour, is itchy or bleeds.
The Australian Cancer Council recommends all adults; particularly those aged 40 and over, should:
- Develop a regular habit of checking your skin.
- Get familiar with your skin and what is normal for you.
- Ensure you check your entire body including areas that are never exposed to the sun.
- Look for new moles or moles that may have changed in shape, color or size – if you notice anything unusual, call the clinic for further assessment.
- Seek assistance from others, or use a mirror to check difficult to see areas such as your back and scalp.
What to look for, three types of skin cancers you need to check for:
These are the most deadly form of skin cancer that if untreated can spread to other parts of the body and be fatal.
They can initially resemble a mole so can be identified by a new mole that has developed, or a mole that is changing in size, colour or shape. Some can grow quickly, be raised or bleed.
The most important thing to look for is a NEW or CHANGING MOLE. An ABCDEF Melanoma Detection Guide can be a useful tool to identify a suspicious mole:
Look for the following features and if found we recommend you call the clinic for a doctor to check the mole.
A : Asymmetry – If a spot is asymmetrical ie if you imaged folding the mole in half, the two sides would not match.
B: Border – Be concerned if the spot has an irregular outline.
C: Colour – If the mole is changing colour or contains more than one colour such as black, red, brown, white and grey.
D: Diameter – Be suspicious if a mole is growing in size.
E: Elevation – If the spot becomes raised or develops a lump within it.
F: Feel – If the moles is rough, scaly, ulcerated or bleeds.
2. Squamous Cell Carcinoma
These often develop on sun exposed areas for example the face, ears and hands. They can develop quickly or slowly grow over months. They are usually a thickened red, scaly raised spot that may bleed easily and may be tender to touch.
3. Basal Cell Carcinoma
These are the commonest form of skin cancer but also the least dangerous. They grow slowly on sun exposure areas such as the face, hands and ears. They usually develop as a red or pale lump that enlarges, often with a central ulcer that never heals.
They can also appear as a flat red scaly area similar to a patch of eczema that doesn’t respond to eczema treatment.
It is possible that some normal skin spots can show the above changes, however it is important you get them checked by a doctor. At Medical Skin Clinic Australia we have experienced staff highly trained in identifying skin cancers and we use specialised equipment to help in the identification process.