Skin cancer is a disease of the body’s skin cells. Skin cancer develops when the cells which make up our skin are damaged and grow abnormally.
The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the main cause of skin cancer. Each time your skin is damaged by UV, changes take place in the structure and function of the skin cells.
If UV damage keeps adding up, skin cells become less able to repair, increasing the risk of skin cancer.
Early treatment is key
Most skin cancer can be successfully treated if it’s found early. But without treatment, skin cancer can be deadly.
Get to know your skin and what looks normal for you to help you find changes earlier. Get into the habit of checking your skin regularly.
This is also important if you have naturally dark skin. Although your risk of melanoma is lower, it is more likely to be found at a later, more dangerous stage than people with lighter skin.
Checking your skin
Most skin cancers are found by people checking their own skin, or are noticed by a loved one.
So how do you check your skin? First, find a room with good light and a full-length mirror.
If you’re on your own, use a hand-held mirror as well to check skin you can’t see (e.g. your scalp, back, etc.).
Undress and check all of your skin, not just sun-exposed areas. This includes your underarms, scalp, groin, and the soles of your feet.
Examine your skin, body part by body part, until you have checked your whole body.
Watch the video below for a step-by-step approach to a self-examination.
You can read about the signs of skin cancer here.
What if you find something?
If you notice anything unusual, including any new spots, or change in shape, colour or size of a spot, visit your Pascoe Vale doctor as soon as possible.
If you’re unable to do a self-examination, you can book in a regular skin check with one of our doctors.
Remember to be sun smart!
It’s never too late to protect yourself from the sun. Remember to follow these five steps:
- Slip on clothing
- Slop on sunscreen
- Slap on a hat
- Seek shade
- Slide on sunglasses.
Using sun protection will cut your risk of skin cancer at any age. Ask us if you have any questions!
Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs. Page last updated 25 November 2021.