GP Skin Cancer Checks
Australian’s have the highest rate of melanoma in the world, and two out of three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70.
Early detection is important for the successful treatment of skin cancer, so Australian’s are encouraged to undergo skin checks regularly.
Who is at risk of skin cancer?
Annual skin checks are recommended for Australian’s over the age of 50, particularly those that have been frequently exposed to the sun at work or during recreation.
If you have a family history of skin cancer, speak to your GP to see if skin checks are recommended earlier, such as from your 20’s.
If you notice any changes to a mole or you skin at any age, see your GP as soon as possible.
Types and symptoms of skin cancer
Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer, and early detection is important for successful treatment.
While melanoma may have no symptoms, the first signs can be a change in the colour, size or shape of an existing mole or the appearance of a new mole.
Should you see your GP for skin check?
Australian general practices offer the same level of accuracy in performing skin checks as dedicated skin cancer clinics.
Importantly, your local GP will also understand your general health and family medical history and can use this to help understand your personal risk factors when it comes to skin cancer.
Your GP can be seen without the need for a referral and often at a time that is more convenient to you.
Getting your skin checked by a GP
When performing a skin check, your GP will generally start by reviewing your medical history to assess your risk. They will then perform an examination from the top of the head to the tip of the toes.
If a lesion is identified that could be skin cancer, your doctor may perform a skin biopsy under local anaesthetic. This will help determine whether it is cancer, and if so, assist in planning for further treatment. Pre-malignant lesions may be treated with cryotherapy, to help prevent these developing into cancer. Cryotherapy hurts momentarily.
How often should I get my skin checked?
If you are overdue for your annual skin check, ensure you visit your local GP as soon as possible. If you have never had a skin check, speak to your GP about your personal risk factors and his or her recommendation for skin checks moving forward. If your regular GP doesn’t offer skin checks, they may be able to refer you to another doctor in the medical centre that does.
Find your nearest Our Medical Home
About the author
Dr Martin Carlson
Dr Martin Carlson has over 25 years’ experience in general practice, with a specialist training in plastic surgery and skin cancer medicine. He operates a dedicated skin clinic at Milton Medical Centre two days each week, performing skin checks and managing skin cancers identified.
Related primary healthcare articles
Doctors Available During The Holidays
Where can you go if you need to see a doctor over the Christmas and New Year's break? Particularly for minor accidents or injuries, or if you're feeling unwell?
Visit Our Medical Home for a Healthier 2019
A great way to make a positive start to 2019 is with a health check by one of the bulk billing GPs at Our Medical Home.Read more about Visit Our Medical Home for a Healthier 2019