Cancer affects many of us . . . .
. . . and most of us will have known someone who has been devastated by the diagnosis of Melanoma. Australian rates of Melanoma and other forms of skin cancer are the highest in the world. Early detection of changes through detailed skin assessment is a proven way of preventing Melanoma and other forms of skin cancer.
- Australia and New Zealand have the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world
- Skin cancers account for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers
- More than 90% of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun
- Melanoma is the most common life threatening cancer in the 15 to 44 year age group
- Melanoma is the third most common life threatening cancer in both men and women overall Melanoma causes more death than the road toll.
Early detection saves lives
Whilst Doctors have been very successful at detecting changes using traditional methods of inspection and measurement of skin moles, there are unfortunately those that are not assessed or are missed. That’s why Skin Microscopy is your best protection against Melanoma and other types of skin cancers.
While we advise everyone to self check it is our experience that this rarely occurs and is certainly not thorough. That’s why we advise a full skin check by our experts.
You are at risk if you have....
- Numerous dark moles or varying moles on your body
- A previous history of Melanoma or other skin cancers, or a family history of Melanoma
- A history of being sun burnt (even mildly) several times in your life
- Recreational sun exposure
- History of sunbed use
- Fair skin / red hair / freckles / light coloured eyes or are easily sun burned
- If you are immunosuppressed or on immunosuppressive drugs, eg for Rheumatoid arthritis.
3 Easy Steps to Peace of Mind
- The doctor will assess your skin for moles and spots that need further evaluation. This involves a discreet examination of all of your skin. Whilst total body skin assessment is recommended, less extensive examination of an area or only 1 or 2 spots will be accommodated.
- The doctor or trained nurse will photograph body areas creating a digital map of your spots/moles. Microscopic images are then taken for deeper critical analysis. All photos are treated in the same way as private medical records. They are securely protected and are not released without patient consent.
- The photos are thoroughly assessed by the doctor for risk of all types of skin cancer. If your moles are thought to be normal, regular review examinations are recommended. This allows for early detection of any changes.
What happens if a suspicious mole or spot is found?
Whilst some skin cancers can be treated non-surgically, if a mole or spot is deemed suspicious the doctor may also suggest the following courses of action:
- Biopsy. Using local anaesthetic, a small piece of the mole is taken and sent for analysis. Usually stitches are not required. And/or:
- Removal of the mole/spot. This will usually require a further appointment. Using local anaesthetic, the mole is surgically removed and sent for confirmation of diagnosis. Stitches are usually required. Dr Pellizzari has extensive esperience in skin cancer surgery and therefore most procedures are able to be done on site with no need for a specialist referral.
- Referral to a specialist may be required for particularly difficult or complicated problems.
Patients may wish to receive a print-out of their photos or to have a CD of their images. This can be useful for self monitoring at home.
Frequently asked questions
Q. How is this different to taking photos with any digital camera?
A. 2 types of photos are taken: The first being a wider angle shot to cover a region of your skin and to identify position of the moles. The second being Dermoscopic images. (microscopic images taken with a specialised camera which can look at the structure of your moles beneath the skin)
Q. Does the computer make the diagnosis?
A. No. Computer analysis assists in the diagnosis but is no replacement for the doctor’s expertise in assessing the Dermoscopic image of a mole.
Q. How long will the appointment take?
A. Numerous moles can take 30-45m to assess and photograph, while fewer could be assessed in 10-15m.
Q. Do I have to undress?
A. You will be asked to undress but keep your underwear on. You will be given a gown to keep you comfortably covered.
Q. Is this a general Skin problem service?
A. No. Skin problems such as itchy skin, eczema, rashes etc. are not assessed in the same way. This is a skin cancer screening service. Your doctor however will have experience in most common skin problems and will advise you on how to best manage these. This may need a separate appointment.
Q. Is the Doctor a dermatologist.
A. No. The doctor is a vocationally registered General Practitioner with expertise in skin cancer risk assessment and Dermoscopy, and is a member of the Skin Cancer College of Australasia. There are times, however, when you may be referred to a Dermatologist or a Surgeon for difficult problems.
Q. How to book it?
A. Advise our receptionist when you telephone for an appointment that you would like to book in for a Skin Check. They will allocate you a 20-30 min (long) consultation. Patients are advised not to wear makeup or face cream when attending a skin check.
Q. What if I only want 1 spot checked.
A. While we recommend a full skin check so that nothing is missed we are happy to check one spot. Please make a normal appointment for this.