Why is screening important?
It is imperative to diagnose skin cancer early. This is true for all forms of skin cancer, but especially so for melanoma.
What sort of screening is appropriate?
All patients should have some form of regular skin screening. Those at relatively low risk may simply self-screen aided by their partner and then have their GP examine any new, changing or growing spot. Those at higher risk should be checked by their GP every 1 to 2 years. Those at highest risk should be seen regularly by a Dermatologist.
How do I Assess My Risk?
In general your risk may be assessed as follows.
- Low risk: No personal or family history of skin cancer and with minimal sun exposure
- Medium risk: Personal history or strong family history of skin cancer, or significant sun exposure
- High risk: Significant personal and or family history of skin cancer, especially of melanoma
How is screening performed?
Basic screening is performed mainly with the “trained” naked eye, although individual suspicious lesions may be examined with additional lighting, magnification or with a dermatoscope.
Occasional patients, with a large number of skin lesions or with a large mole count may need to be monitored with serial photography, enabling comparison of lesions from one visit to the next. South Perth Specialist Skin Cancer Centre no longer provides this service however can refer appropriate patients to the only clinic in Perth that can do so.
Remember: Regardless of whether regular screening is being performed or not if you detect a changing or newly developing skin lesion, or if you become concerned about any skin lesion, ensure that you have it checked by your doctor.