– Does the spot look fairly even?
– How irregular is the border of the spot?
– Is the colour of spot even?
– How big is the spot?
– Is the spot changing and how quickly?
Cancer Council Australia’s Skin Cancer Committee
For more information visit Cancer Council’s Skin Cancer Statistics & Issues.
Cancer Council Australia’s Skin Cancer Committee has developed a number of position statements addressing common myths and misunderstandings and providing clear information and advice aimed at helping Australians reduce their skin cancer risk. Many of the statements have been developed with input from other expert health organisations, particularly the Australasian College of Dermatologists.
1. Staples MP, Elwood M, Burton RC, Williams JL, Marks R, Giles GG. Non-melanoma skin cancer in Australia: the 2002 national survey and trends since 1985. Med J Aust. 2006;184(1):6–10.
2. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Causes of Death, Australia, 2017. Vol. 3303.0. Australian Bureau of Statistics: Canberra, Australia, 2018.
3. Ferlay J, Soerjomatram I, Ervik M, Dikshit R, Eser S, Mathers C, Rebelo M, Parkin D, Forman D, Bray F. GLOBOCAN 2012 v1.0, Cancer Incidence and Mortality Worldwide: IARC CancerBase No. 11. IARC, World Health Organisation, 2013.
4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Cancer in Australia 2017. Cancer Series no.101. Cat.no. CAN 100. AIHW: Canberra, Australia, 2017.
5. Fransen M, Karahalios A, Sharma N, English DR, Giles GG, Sinclair RD. Non-melanoma skin cancer in Australia. Med J Aust. 2012;197(10):565–8.
6. Victorian Cancer Registry. Cancer in Victoria: Statistics & Trends 2018 Cancer Council Victoria: Melbourne, Victoria, 2019. Available from: www.cancervic.org.au/downloads/cec/cancer-in-vic/Cancer-in-Victoria-2018.pdf.
7. Fritschi L, Driscoll T. Cancer due to occupation in Australia. Aust N Z Public Health. 2006;30(3):213–9
The sooner skin cancer is found, the easier it is to treat.
The best way to ensure skin cancer is found early is to get to know your skin and what’s normal for you. Any changes including new spots, or changes in shape, colour or size of an existing spot should be checked by your GP.
Most skin cancers are found by people checking their own skin or are noticed by a loved one. There is no evidence to support screening programs for skin cancer at a population level, however, people at high risk of skin cancer should discuss a surveillance strategy with their GP.
Get to know your skin and, if you notice anything unusual, visit your doctor as soon as possible. Read more about the signs of skin cancer.D
Cancer Council Victoria recommends seeing your GP as your first port of call for a suspicious spot. Your GP can help ensure your personal medical history is taken into account if treatment or a referral is required. If there is any cause for concern your GP will refer you to a dermatologist or surgeon for further investigation.
A dermatologist is a doctor who specialises in treating and diagnosing all conditions relating to the skin, hair and nails. After becoming a doctor, they undertake several years of additional training. You need a referral from your GP to see a dermatologist.
Skin cancer is diagnosed by physical examination and biopsy.
A biopsy is a quick and simple procedure where part or all of the spot is removed and sent to a laboratory. It may be done by your doctor or you might be referred to a dermatologist or surgeon. Results may take about a week to come through.
In some cases, your biopsy may remove all of your skin cancer and you may not require further treatment.
In choosing the best treatment option, your doctor will consider your age and general health, the type and size of cancer, where it is on your body and what you want. The treatment choice will also depend on whether the skin cancer has spread elsewhere in your body. Types of further treatment include:
Skin cancer clinics are mostly run by GPs with special skills and interests in Skin Cancer. It is important you find out about the services offered and the expertise of the doctors in Skin cancer clinics to assess if they suit your particular needs.