How often should you get a skin check?

Perth is known as the sunniest capital city in Australia, and potentially the world. With an average of over 8.8 hours of sunshine a day, it means West Australians are out in the sun a lot—which in turn means more exposure to harmful UV rays.

So it comes as no surprise that skin cancers are prevalent in Australia, and that we have one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world. About 2,000 Australians die each year from skin cancer, and over two in three people will be diagnosed with skin cancer at some point in their life.

These statistics are shocking.

But the good news is that early detection of skin cancers can significantly reduce your chance of skin cancer turning fatal. Up to 95% of skin cancers are treatable if you find them early.

And the way to find them early is by getting a regular skin check.

At Brecken Health, our specialist GPs provide expert skin checks in Mandurah, helping you to put steps in place to be alert for any potential changes to your skin.

How our skin checks work

Getting a skin check is actually quite a straightforward process, and only takes between 15 and 30 minutes.

Simply book one in with your GP. Then during your appointment, they’ll use a hand-held device known as a dermoscope to undertake a full dermoscopy of your body.

The dermoscope illuminates and magnifies your skin, allowing your GP to take a detailed look at the skin all over your body. They’re able to look at any moles or freckles, any rashes or irregularities, and your hair follicles and capillaries.

If they notice any areas of concern, your GP will then refer you on to a specialist for a more detailed review.

How often do I need to get a skin check?

There are no current guidelines for how often to get a skin check. However, the Cancer Council recommends that you regularly check your own skin. This allows you to get a better understanding of your body, of what’s normal and what’s not, and notice if anything has changed.

But if you’re concerned, getting a skin check from your GP every year is a good way to ensure you stay on top of your skin health. It’s also recommended to see your GP if you notice a new spot, or one of your existing spots has changed.

If you’re one of the categories of people at higher risk of skin cancers, it’s best to get more regular checks.

What are some early signs of skin cancer I should look out for?

Skin cancer is caused by UV rays attacking your skin. And they don’t discriminate; UV rays can cause skin cancers on any part of the body.

This is why undertaking a thorough skin check regularly is vital.

There are some important signs to look out for on your skin that will tell you that you need to seek a professional skin check. You should be aware of:

  • A spot on your skin that looks different to the other spots
  • If the spot changes in size, shape, colour, or texture
  • If you have a sore that doesn’t heal within a couple of weeks
  • If the sore remains itchy and continues to bleed

Melanomas are the most serious form of skin cancer, and are more deadly than any other type. Here’s how to identify potential melanomas in moles or freckles when checking your own skin:

  • Asymmetry. Does your mole look the same on both sides, or is one side different from the other?
  • Border. Are the edges of your mole uneven or notched?
  • Colour. Can you see different shades or colour patches inside the mole?
  • Diameter. Is the mole or freckle larger than 6mm across, or is it growing in size?
  • Evolving. Has the mole or freckle changed over time? Whether it’s a change in colour, shape, feels different, is bleeding, or something else.

Am I at a higher risk of skin cancer?

Despite all living under the same sun, some people may be at more risk than others of developing skin cancers. You may be at higher risk of skin cancer if you:

  • Have previously had a skin cancer
  • Have a family history of skin cancer
  • Are fair-skinned or have freckles
  • If you have skin that burns easily
  • If you have red or fair hair
  • Have blue or green eyes
  • Already have a lot of moles on your body
  • Currently work, or used to work, outside a lot
  • Have had short and intense exposure to UV radiation
  • Actively tan (including tanning beds)
  • Have a weakened immune system
  • Have certain skin conditions, including sunspots

Where to get a skin check in Mandurah

Getting a skin check in Mandurah is easy, and the 30 minutes it takes every year could save your life.

Get in touch with your Brecken Health Mandurah GP to book a skin check as part of your regular health routine.

It’s quick, non-invasive, and will give you peace of mind that you’re putting your health first—and gives you the best chance of avoiding becoming another Australian skin cancer statistic.