7 ways to get the most out of your skin cancer check

Living in Australia for any period of time puts you at increased risk of developing skin cancer, including potentially deadly melanomas. Australia is the skin cancer capital of the world with one diagnosis every 30 minutes, which is why a regular skin check by a doctor is the best way to get peace of mind and even save your life.

Being prepared for your skin check and knowing what to expect will help you make the most out of this (typically) annual appointment. Let’s look at seven ways to make the most out of your skin check.

1. Know what age you should commence regular skin cancer checks

Your risk of skin cancer increases as you get older. However, melanoma is the leading cause of death in young Australians aged 15 to 39. Therefore, it’s a good idea to get your first skin check from 14-16 years of age. Your doctor will then advise how often you need to return. If you notice anything unusual on your child’s skin at any age, it’s a good idea to get it checked for peace of mind.

It’s never too early or late in life to book your skin exam.
If you’re overdue, it’s better late than never!

2. Know where to start with booking a skin check

If you’re unsure how to get started, or haven’t had a skin check in a while, try looking for a doctor with advanced qualifications and training in skin cancer diagnosis and treatment. You can usually see a doctor’s certifications in their online biography.

Doctors with advanced skin cancer training can help provide you with a comprehensive skin screening and will be able to provide follow-up services if required, such as a biopsy and treatment.

If you book at one of our skin cancer clinics across Australia, you won’t require a referral. You can book online or by giving us a call.

3. Know how often to get a skin check

Your doctor can advise how often you should come back for regular skin checks. This is usually once per year, but more frequent skin exams may be required if you are at increased risk of skin cancer (for example, if you have a personal or family history of the disease or have sun-damaged skin). You can find a full list of skin cancer risk factors that may affect you here.

4. Know how to prepare before your skin check

Here is your pre-appointment check list:

  • Give yourself time: Your skin check will take between 15 and 30 minutes, with a few minutes extra on either side for checking in and out at the reception desk.
  • Bring yourself up to speed on your family medical history: If you haven’t had a skin check before, your doctor is likely to ask some questions about your medical and skin history, like your sun protection habits, sun exposure history, your family and personal skin cancer history, whether you are immunocompromised, and more.
  • Come to your appointment without makeup, nail polish or fake tan so the doctor can properly assess your skin without hindrance.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes that are easy to slip off, to save you time undressing and redressing.
  • Take note of any moles or spots that you want the doctor to pay particular attention to, especially under your hair and in your genital area.
  • Bring your Medicare card (if you have one) to claim a partial Medicare rebate.
  • Bring any paperwork or referrals from other doctors who have assessed your skin elsewhere. However, please note a referral is not required.

5. Know what to expect during your skin check

We’ve prepared a short video that provides a comprehensive walk-through of what to expect at your skin cancer check. You can watch it here.

6. Know what questions to ask your doctor

Be sure to arrive at your skin check armed with any questions you want to ask your doctor, such as:

  • Why does this spot look different from the rest?
  • Am I at high risk of skin cancer?
  • How can I reduce my skin cancer risk?
  • How can I protect my skin from sun damage?
  • How often should I return for regular skin screening?
  • Should my family members get checked too?
  • Do I require total body photography?

If you would like to know more about total body photography, read here.

7. Know what happens next

If you see a doctor for a full-body skin cancer examination and a suspicious mole is identified, what happens next? This blog explains the process of biopsy, diagnosis, treatment and ongoing management of suspicious skin lesions.

Feeling prepared?

If you have any further questions or concerns about getting your skin examined, please reach out. We would love to help put your mind at ease and optimise your skin health.