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Why do I need a skin cancer check every year?

Posted by National Skin Cancer Centres on Oct 11, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Australia is the skin cancer capital of the world, with around 800,000 diagnoses every year. To make sure one of those skin cancers isn't growing on your skin, regular professional skin cancer checks are essential.

How often is 'regular'?

It is recommended that all Australians get a skin check every year. For children younger than 15, skin checks are generally only necessary if there is a concerning lesion on the child's skin or if recommended by a doctor.

If you're at very high risk of skin cancer, you may require a check every few months. People at high risk of skin cancer include those who have fair skin, have sun damaged skin, work outdoors, or have a history of skin cancer, among many other factors. Your doctor will advise if you need more frequent checks. Take our quick quiz to find out your skin cancer risk.

Why do you need skin checks every year?

Some skin cancers grow slowly, taking months or years to develop, but others can appear and become deadly within a few short months. The best way to ensure successful treatment and cure is to diagnose any problems early. That means getting skin checks as often as you can, and self-monitoring your skin in between professional check-ups.

It's important to get to know your skin and look for any new lesions or changes in the size, shape or colour of moles. Get a loved one to help check your scalp and back, and see your skin cancer doctor straight away if you notice anything suspicious. Learn more about checking your skin.

Why not see the doctor only when you notice a concerning mole?

The symptoms of skin cancer aren't always obvious, especially with the naked eye. Sometimes, it's the lesions you aren't worried about that are actually cancerous.

Skin cancer doctors use a number of techniques and tools to thoroughly examine your entire skin surface, looking beneath the skin to detect abnormalities in the cells beyond what the naked eye can see. Doctors can talk to you about your history and personal risk, and offer prompt diagnosis and treatment if necessary.

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Topics: Detection