2 out of 3 Australians will develop a skin cancer by 70
When did you last have a comprehensive skin check?
Early Detection Saves Lives
At Cremorne Medical Practice we provide skilled Doctors using Advanced, Evidence-based Detection & Management techniques for comprehensive skin cancer care.
A full skin check involves the doctor thouroughly examining your skin – head to toes, using light magnification, dermoscopy and digital dermoscopy – usually takes 10-15min.
A Dermoscope is a hand-held skin microscope, allowing the doctor to see beneath the outer layer of skin to inspect deeper elements to help determine if a skin lesion or mole is suspicious.
Digital dermoscopy can be used to save images for future comparisons.
Accurate dermoscopy by trained professionals leads to early detection of skin cancer & can also reduce the risk of the unnecessary excision of harmless skin lesions.
What is skin cancer?
Skin cancer occurs when skin cells are damaged, for example, by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Australia has amongst the highest rates in the world.
There are three main types of skin cancer:
- basal cell carcinoma (BCCs) – the most common form (~75%)
- squamous cell carcinoma (SCCs)
- melanoma – the most dangerous form (<5%)
Both BCCs & SCCs are known as non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSCs).
- Two out of three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70.
- More than 750,000 people treated for one or more NMSCs in Australia each year.
- Melanoma is the 3rd & 4th most common cancer in Australian women & men, respectively. and the most common cancer in Australians aged 15-44 years.
- In 2012, 12,036 Australians were diagnosed with melanoma.
- 95 – 99% of all skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun.
The sooner a skin cancer is identified and treated, the better your chance of avoiding surgery or, in the case of a serious melanoma or other skin cancer, potential disfigurement or even death.
CHANGE is the KEY! Be familiar with your skin, & IDENTIFY any changes EARLY. Look for:
- any crusty, non-healing sores
- small lumps that are red, pale or pearly in colour
- new spots, freckles or any moles changing in colour, thickness or shape over a period of weeks to months (especially those dark brown to black, red or blue-black in colour).
BCCs normally appear as a lump or scaling area that is red, pale or pearly in colour. They typically grow slowly, & are most common on the head, neck & upper torso.
SCCs normally appear as a red, scaly spot that may be tender or bleed easily. They typically grow slowly over months and can spread to other parts of the body if left untreated. They are most common on chronically exposed areas such as head/neck, arms & lower legs.
Melanomas grow/develop over weeks to months & can spread rapidly to other parts of the body. They can be flat or raised & appear as a new or existing spot that changes (size, shape, colour).
Learn More _Link to information below on Melanoma
Your doctor may perform a biopsy (remove a small sample of tissue for examination under a microscope) or refer you to a specialist if he/she suspects a skin cancer.
Skin cancers are typically excised. However, some can be treated topically or with Radiotherapy. Most excisions can be performed in our Theatre by our expertly trained GPs. Referrals to Plastic Surgeons or Dermatologists are provided when appropriate or upon request..
If detected early, most skin cancers are successfully treated.
In 2013, 2209 people died from skin cancer in Australia, (1617: melanoma & 592 NMSC).
The five-year relative survival rate for melanoma is 89% for men and 94% for women.
Protect your skin
For best protection, we recommend a combination of sun protection measures:
- Slip on some sun-protective clothing – that covers as much skin as possible
- Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30+ sunscreen – apply 20min before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards.
- Slap on a hat – that protects your face, head, neck and ears
- Seek shade & Slide on some sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian standards.
Be extra cautious in the middle of the day when UV levels are most intense.
What is melanoma?
Melanoma usually occurs on body parts overexposed to the sun. Rare melanomas can occur in parts of the skin or body that have never been exposed to the sun. The risk of being diagnosed with melanoma by age 85 is 1 in 14 for men & 1 in 24 for women.
Often melanoma has no symptoms, however it can be associated with changes that relate to ‘ABCDE’ – Asymmetry, irregular Border, uneven Colour, Diameter (usually >6mm), Evolving (changing). Including dark areas under nails, or on the lining of mouth, vagina or anus.
Causes of melanoma
Melanoma risk increases with UV radiation, particularly episodes of sunburn (esp. childhood).
Melanoma risk is increased for people who have:
- increased numbers of unusual moles (dysplastic naevi)
- depressed immune systems
- a family history of melanoma in a first degree relative
- fair skin, a tendency to burn rather than tan, freckles, light eye colour, light or red hair colour
- had a previous melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancer.
Treatment for melanoma
If the excised lesion is thick, a biopsy of the first draining lymph node (sentinel node) is performed. The most important feature of a melanoma in predicting its outcome is its thickness (stage 0 is <0.1mm, stage I <2mm, stage II >2mm, stage III local lymph nodes spread and stage IV is distant spread). The presence of ulceration also predicts a poor outcome. If distant spread is suspected, CT scans of the chest, abdomen and pelvis are performed.
Surgery can be curative for thin melanomas and requires that the melanoma be removed with at least 1–2cm of normal skin around it. If the draining lymph nodes are involved they are removed.
Surgery is the mainstay of treating relapsed melanoma if it is possible to remove all of the disease. For widespread disease, there is no role for chemotherapy in advanced melanoma.
Therapy for advanced disease can involve targeted therapy with a BRAF inhibitor in combination with a MEK inhibitor if your tumour has an activating BRAF mutation or immunotherapy which has activity in both BRAF mutation positive and negative tumours.
Prognosis for melanoma
Prognosis depends on the type and stage of cancer, as well as their age and general health at the time of diagnosis. Five year survival for people diagnosed with melanoma is 91%, rising to 99% if the melanoma is detected before it has spread. If local spread has occurred, the five year survival is 65%, dropping to 15% if the disease is widespread and untreated.
provide link to_Melanoma Institute of Australia http://www.melanoma.org.au/
Cancer Council of Australia
Melanoma Institute of Australia