Why Are Yearly Skin Cancer Checks So Important?

Aside from ensuring to wear sunscreen every day, seeing a skin Cancer specialist yearly is the safest and most thorough way of taking care of your skin. We have identified some of the reasons behind the importance of annual skin checks, coupled with a list of the warning signs you should be aware of.

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When skin cancer is caught early enough, there is a 98 percent — or greater — chance that it can be cured, says Dr. Amoli. “Not catching it can be deadly.” The annual skin check is thus an exam that can literally save your life.
When the skin is being checked, there are some “hidden” areas that need particular attention from the trained eye of a dermatology specialist:
• Between the toes
• The scalp
• Inside the ears
• Behind the ears
• The fingernails
• Between the butt cheeks
• The backs of the legs
• Beneath the underwear
• Beneath the pubic hair

People of colour have more melanin in their skin, which functions as innate protection, but melanoma occurs in all skin types and every ethnicity. “I’ve seen it on the backs of the legs of women of colour who’ve never had so much as a sunburn,” she says. Patients with darker skin, Dr Amoli says, should be examined with particular attention to the following areas:
• Palms of the hands
• Soles of the feet
• Fingernails
• Toenails

Regular self-checks of moles, birthmarks, freckles, and/or brown spots are also recommended, in addition to the yearly doctor’s examination. People with numerous moles and freckles have a greater risk of melanoma, says Dr Amoli, but not every mole or freckle has the potential to become a skin cancer. “This is another reason why it’s important to get checked. Your doctor can tell you the difference between moles. Sometimes a mole can be dysplastic, meaning that it’s not a typical benign mole, but it’s also not melanoma.”

For self-checks of spots, moles, birthmarks, and freckles, Dr Amoli suggests following the ABCDE rules:

A — Asymmetry: Does one side of the mole match the other, or does the mole have an irregular, or asymmetrical, shape?
B — Border: Does the spot have a smooth edge or a ragged one? An irregular border can be a red flag.
C — Colour variation: Is the colour the same all over the mole, or are there patches of red, blue, or white?
D — Diameter: Be on the lookout for any spot larger across than the eraser head of a pencil.
E — Evolving: Does the spot/mole/birthmark always look the same, or has it changed in some way recently?

If you notice any of these warning signs, please book an appointment to see your doctor. Wellcare Medical centre are happy to offer Full Skin Checks and Spot Checks to new and existing patients. Just get in touch via phone or email.

Another service we provide here is, sending images of your mole or lesions straight to the Doctor through images@wmc.org.au and he will be in touch if he wants to further examine the lesion.