According to Cancer Council Australia, skin cancers continue to make up for 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers in this country every year. This is not a problem that is going to go away just because the colder months of the year have finally arrived.
“We really encourage our patients to remain vigilant in their skin checks during this time,” explains Dr Kate DeAmbrosis, specialist dermatologist at Valley Plastic Surgery. “If anything, you need to be more vigilant during winter because the issues developed over summer may finally be starting to come to the surface.”
During summer you are far more likely to notice moles or unusual lesions as more of your skin is exposed. However, we are often less likely to notice suspicious moles in winter as we tend to be more heavily clothed.
In fact, winter may prove to be the best time for a full skin check. As most people are covered up during the winter months, your skin is often less traumatised, allowing for better dermoscopy viewing (a distinct magnifying light, which allows a doctor to closely examine spots on the skin). Sun exposure can sometimes cause a mole to transform slightly, which could make a normal mole appear suspect.
Keep it consistent:
It’s recommended that you get a skin cancer check every 12 months, or anytime you notice something that concerns you. If you notice any spots or moles that change in colour or shape, new spots or freckles, small lumps that are red, pale or pearly in colour, or if you notice and red scaly areas that do not seem to heal, it’s a good idea to get it checked.
“One of the easiest things people can do to for their health is to turn skin checks into a routine annual procedure,” says Dr DeAmbrosis. “Something as simple as using the first day of winter to diarise a skin cancer check could save your life.”
The entire team at Valley Plastic Surgery consult on a wide variety of skin cancer issues and have performed thousands of skin cancer removal operations.
Skin lesion surgery is generally rebatable by Medicare, so be sure to get a GP referral prior to attending your consultation.
Four things to consider in your monthly self-checks at home:
If someone feels they have a skin abnormality, when should they go from being vigilant to seeking medical advice?
If you notice a change within the area of concern or if the area feels funny or different, definitely seek medical advice.
Don’t ignore your own internal sense of suspicion. 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.
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.