The Australian Medical Association (AMA) have recently revealed their concern that some Australians are putting off seeing their doctor or getting a test, investigation, or consultation due to fears of contracting COVID-19.“It is clear that people are putting off seeing their doctor or specialist, or not going at all,” Valley Plastic Surgery’s Dr Raymond Goh said.“Peak bodies such as the AMA and Department of Health are already seeing a significant reduction in investigative diagnostic tests, including skin cancer biopsies and skin cancer screenings, which is particularly concerning to me.“This means we are missing the vital diagnosis of conditions such as skin cancer,” explained Dr Goh. “Social distancing is really important, but a visit to the doctor must remain an essential part of our everyday lives.”
All skin cancers are considered category 1 procedures, and the three most common types of skin cancers are basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and melanoma.“We will make a determination which skin cancer needs to be attended to under a local anaesthetic, which we can do within Valley Plastic Surgery with a high level of precautions in place. We do everything to ensure that the chances of coming into contact with the virus are extremely low, if not negligible,” explains Dr Goh. “All up, a patient may only spend 30 minutes at the clinic.“Other, more serious cases could need a twilight sedation or general anaesthetic; these procedures need to be undertaken in a hospital but the beauty of a twilight sedation, which we use in a great majority of cases, is that the patient is more likely to recover quite seamlessly from the sedation and we can have them in and out of the hospital environment and back in their home on the same day. In these current times, many people feel quite re-assured with this scenario.”Aside from skin cancers, the surgeons at Valley Plastic Surgery are still seeing all kinds of cases via tele-health consults, including elective or cosmetic procedures that people may be considering for the future.
Dr Goh explains that whilst most consults are done via tele-health at present, surgeons really only need three things to determine a medical course of action: A referral from the GP or skin specialist, the pathology and then ideally also a photograph of the offending lesion.“Fear of technology should never be a barrier to seeking a tele-health consult,” says Dr Goh. “I can assure you we always find a way to read and see the necessary information and then a good consult on the phone is a way for me to determine if we need to progress to a ‘see and do’ style of appointment. In these instances, we prepare to see the patient in person but then confirm the surgical and treatment plan on the day of the procedure.“I understand the national instructions for people to stay at home, but we can’t stress highly enough that taking care of your health is not something that can be put on hold or delayed, and neither is it a burden to the healthcare system at this point in time. The burden will come a year or two down the track when doctors and the health system are having to attend to medical situations that could have been prevented before they progressed to a significantly serious – or even unsalvageable – stage.”***Together, Dr Goh, Dr Peters 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.)