SKIN MEDICINE AT RPM
At Royal Park Medical we treat patients for many common skin complaints including eczema, psoriasis, acne and rashes. We are able to offer diagnosis and management of these conditions, plus more, or offer a referral to a Dermatologist, if needed.
We also offer full skin cancer checks, biopsies to aid diagnosis of a new rash or growth as well as excision of moles and suspicious lesions. Furthermore, liquid nitrogen cryotherapy treatment for warts and other superficial skin lesions can be done on site. The following sub-section aims to increase your awareness around skin cancer.
Skin cancer is common in Australia. It occurs from damage to cells in the skin, such as overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
There are three main types of skin cancer:
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are known as non-melanoma skin cancer.
Non-melanoma skin cancer is more common in men, with almost double the incidence compared to women. Excluding non-melanoma skin cancer – (these are not notified to cancer registries in Australia), melanoma was the third most common cancer in Australians in 2014 (13,134 Australians were diagnosed). Australia and New Zealand melanoma rates are higher than any other country in the world.
RISK FACTORS FOR SKIN CANCERS
Exposure to UV radiation is the primary cause of most skin cancer. Other factors pre-dispose people to developing skin cancer.
- Age and sex (men older than 60 are at the highest risk)
- History of previous melanoma or non-melanoma (BCC & SCC) skin cancer
- Family history of melanoma, especially if two or more first degree relatives are affected.
- Number of skin moles:
- Common moles > 100,
- Dysplastic moles > 5 (dysplastic moles are large irregular skin moles)
- Very fair skin
- The number of episodes of blistering or peeling sunburns and evidence of sun damaged skin.
- Immune suppression.
CHECKING FOR SIGNS OF SKIN CANCER
It is important to know your skin because the sooner a skin cancer is identified and treated- the better the outcome. Regularly checking your skin for new spots, or changes to existing spots is recommended. It is important to check your entire body – either using a mirror or making use of a friend/partner. Don’t forget to look between fingers, toes and soles of feet. It is important to undress completely and ensure you have good light.
SunSmart has a video demonstrating the skin check: http://www.sunsmart.com.au/skin-cancer/checking-for-skin-cancer
What am I meant to look for?
When checking your skin for signs of any cancer take note of;
- New moles
- Moles that have increased in size
- Any spot that has changed colour, become darker or has developed varied pigmentation
- Any spot that becomes raised or develops a lump within it
- The surface of a mole becomes rough, scaly or ulcerated
- Moles that itch, tingle or bleed
Melanomas have a specific alphabetical detection guide that can be helpful. The ABCDE melanoma detection guide is as follows
A – Asymmetry; Lesions that lack symmetry
B – Border; Lesions with irregular edges or notches
C – Colour; Lesions with a number of colours or darker colours +/- grey
D – Diameter; Lesions that are becoming bigger
E – Evolving; Lesions that are changing
Noticing changes does not mean you have skin cancer. It is important to visit your GP to have them assess you further.
A combination of sun protection measures is recommended to reduce your risk of skin cancer. The Slip, Slop and Slap message is one that most Australians are familiar with. For those that need a reminder;
Slip on some sun protective clothing.
Slop on some sunscreen (at least SPF 30, applying liberally and at least 20 minutes before going outdoors. Remember to re-apply immediately after swimming, excessive sweating, or if rubbed off by clothing or towelling. This should be the case even if the product claims to be “water resistant”.
Slap on a hat – broad brim or legionnaire style to protect your face, head, neck and ears.
Slide on some sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian Standards.
BE SURE TO SHOW YOUR DOCTOR ANYTHING ON YOUR SKIN THAT CONCERNS YOU.
Further reading can be found on the following pages;
Cancer council; www.cancercouncil.com.au/cancer-prevention/sun-protection
Australasian College of Dermatology; http://www.dermcoll.edu.au/for-community/your-skin-health
This information is intended to support, not replace, discussion with your doctor or healthcare professional. The authors have made considerable effort to ensure the information is accurate, up to date and easy to understand. Royal Park Medical accepts no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success of any treatment regimen.