The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is urging people to continue to manage their healthcare and maintenance, and to not allow the COVID-19 crisis to prevent any crucial healthcare activity. AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said that fear and concern over COVID-19 should not make people ignore their everyday health.Valley Plastic Surgery can still treat skin cancer and emergency cases and is offering tele-health appointments to ensure the ongoing health and safety of both staff and patients. A GP will see you initially (albeit via a telehealth consult) and then refer your case onto one of our surgeons. Patients may wish to contact the VPS team immediately after their GP consult to arrange an appointment time, knowing that their referral is being sent from their GP’s practice.“I’m really passionate about removing any barriers or alleviating any concerns people might have which prevent them from seeking medical advice for their healthcare,” says Dr Matthew Peters.
“There is absolutely no reason why I can’t consult via phone or video to make a determination on the initial course of action at the very least. We can at least get the ball rolling during these times.“In fact, it’s a great opportunity for me to triage the situation. I can look at the referral, the images and also undertake a telehealth consult to still do a very good examination and naturally obtain a detailed history of the patient’s health.”At this point in time, only category 1 and urgent category 2 surgical procedures may proceed. An example of this may be skin cancers where the patient will require either a general anaesthetic in hospital for the procedure or a local anaesthetic in our rooms with a high level of precaution in place.
If someone feels they have a skin abnormality, when should they go from being vigilant to seeking medical advice?
“If someone notices a change within the area of concern, then they should definitely seek medical advice,” urges Dr Peters. “I will always ask my patient how long they might have had the skin concern and the majority of the time, people won’t have noticed anything wrong UNTIL it started changing colour, shape or size.“The next question I will ask is if the area feels funny or different,” says Dr Peters “And again, that will prompt my patients to reflect on other ways the skin cancer may be changing or misbehaving.”And your own internal sense of suspicion shouldn’t be ignored either, Dr Peters counsels. If you think something is new and curious, it’s worth having checked out.History also plays a big part; if someone has a history of significant sun exposure, a history of previous skin cancers or a family history of skin cancers, then skin checks should be a routine process.“I can’t stress enough that if you have any of those aforementioned risk factors, then routine skin checks are just mandatory. Don’t wait for your GP to coincidentally pick up things. Please take matters – literally – into your own hands and perform a routine skin check to stay on top of things; early intervention is key.”
COVID-19 is something we all have to manage so as we are ensuring everyone is safe and being medically looked after, but we can’t ignore the health issues that will continue to arise despite the ongoing pandemic.“I’ve read some very worrying statistics out of places like New York City,” says Dr Peters “that cite data from specialists in major city hospitals who are attending to far fewer critical situation such as strokes. All they can surmise is that people are not presenting to hospital due to a fear of COVID-19. It’s alarming. Strokes are not elective. You can’t just decide you will or won’t be affected by one. And same goes for many other health concerns. Now is NOT the time to put your own health on hold.”***Together, Dr Peters, Dr Goh and Dr Saylor have performed countless skin cancer removal operations.If you feel you have skin cancer concerns that need further consultation, please seek a referral from your general practitioner or call our practice team on (07) 3488 8118 for further advice on how to schedule an appointment.Skin lesion surgery is generally rebatable by Medicare, so be sure to get a GP referral prior to attending your consultation.(Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.)