Today, February 25, marks Australia’s first National Skin Care Check Day — an event that aims to raise awareness of the importance of self-monitoring for skin cancers, as summer comes to its conclusion. You’d think, given that we have one of — if not the — highest rates of skin cancer in the world, that it would’ve come sooner. But this effort was all due to one man.
Jason Sprott, who was diagnosed with melanoma at the age of 31 — after noticing a mole on his neck had changed colour — spearheaded the campaign through the charity he founded, Mates Against Melanoma.
Skin cancers account for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers, according to the Cancer Council. Two in three of us will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer before we hit our 70th birthday. As for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer? It’s the third most common cancer in Australians.
Speaking to ABC News, Associate Professor Stephen Shumack says picking up on melanoma early was key for a successful cure. “We still get a number of deaths from melanomas, and as things stand we can always be a little bit better.”
As for the impact awareness days like today have? Professor Shumack said that GPs and dermatologists usually see an increase in patients booking skin check appointments after awareness campaigns like this one.
If you’re wondering how to go about a self-skin check, or book an appointment to get your skin checked by a professional, we have you covered with our series The Check-Up.
The best way to start a self-skin check for melanoma is via the ABCDE method: look for asymmetry, borders being uneven, colour variation throughout, diameter (larger than ¼ inch is worrying), and evolving, or changing in a certain trait (size, shape, colour). Look out for bleeding or crusting — the latter is the strongest of all warning signs and should be checked out by a medical professional immediately.
As for where to get your skin checked, and who to see, it’s best to start out with your GP. From there, you can go to a skin cancer clinic or dermatologist. The former two are likely to offer bulk billing, the latter is most likely out of pocket. But it’s worth it if you’re concerned about your skin.
So don’t delay about getting your skin checked — use National Skin Check Day as a reminder to look yourself, or get it looked at professionally. Future you will be thankful.