Do you have fair skin, a tendency to burn, green or blue eyes, blonde hair, or a family history of melanoma? You may be in the high risk group for skin cancer. You may also be one of the one in three Australians who have never had a skin check.
The most common reason that people don't get a skin check, according to research by TAL, is that they don't realise how important it is. But skin cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer in Australia, making up 81 per cent of all new cases of cancer diagnosed in the country every year. Two thirds of us will get skin cancer by the age of 70.
Our high incidence of this deadly disease is mostly due to the high levels of UV radiations in Australia and our sun-loving culture. In fact, around 2.4 million Aussie adults get sunburnt on summer weekends. Since sunburn is the leading cause of skin cancer, including deadly melanomas, a skin check is one test you should do this summer to start your year the right way.
Regular skin cancer checks lead to earlier detection and treatment of potentially deadly lesions, when you have the best chance of successful treatment. Skin cancers can be cured if found early enough but, if left too late, they can grow or spread to other organs and lead to severe scarring, disfigurement, or death.
Once you've booked your annual skin check, you can monitor your own skin at home in the meantime to look for changes in the size, shape or colour of your lesions, or the development of a new lesion. Up to 70 per cent of melanomas are first noticed by the patient themselves or by their partners, so it pays to become familiar with your own skin.
If, during your skin check, the doctor notices an abnormal lesion, they may perform a biopsy to confirm a diagnosis. There are many surgical and non-surgical treatments available for skin cancer and the cure rate is very high when malignant lesions are detected early.