Do I need to have a skin check

Do I need to have a skin check?

The incidence of melanoma skin cancer, the most fatal form of skin cancer, is increasing faster than any other potentially
preventable cancer (1). In a perfect world all skin cancer is curable if caught early enough,
and the earlier it is diagnosed the smaller the scar to remove it.
Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. Approximately 2 in 3 Australians will be diagnosed with
skin cancer by the age of 70 (2). Often skin cancer has been present and slowly growing for months to years before diagnosis..

Are you at high risk of skin cancer?

  • High-risk patients
  • White males age 50 and above
  • Family history of melanoma
  • Total nevus count above 25 (although melanomas also arise in patients with fewer moles)
  • One or more atypical nevi
  • Childhood radiation exposure
  • Significant childhood/adolescent/young adult sun exposure including at least one blistering or painful sunburn under age 30 years, chronic outdoor activities without adequate photoprotection, or indoor tanning beds (solarium use).
  • Immunocompromising condition, particularly chronic use of medications that suppress the immune system
  • Red hair phenotype

A subset of the high-risk patients are considered to be at very high risk.

  • Very high-risk patients
  • Very strong family history of melanoma (at least three melanomas on one side of the lineage)
  • Personal history of multiple atypical nevi (moles)

There is strong evidence that all patients at high risk of melanoma should be seen by a skin doctor for a thorough examination at least once a year. There is evidence this results in melanoma being diagnosed earlier, when it is thinner and less likely to spread through the body (3,4,5)

For patients that are not high risk - the evidence is less certain. We recommend considering skin checks from age 35, and then subsequent imaging based on your unique risk discussed in detail with your treating skin doctor.

Please note - if you are concerned about an individual spot for any reason, specifically if it is growing, changing colour, itching, bleeding or simply appears different to all your other spots (an "ugly duckling") we recommend you see a skin doctor immediately regardless of your risk status for melanoma.

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