skin cancer clinic Liverpool Sydney

Skin Cancer Check

The skin is the largest organ in the body.

Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the skin.

There are three main types of skin cancers; they are basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and melanoma. BCC and SCC are also called non-melanoma skin cancer or keratinocyte cancers.

Why should I worry about skin cancer?

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world and much of this has to do with our love for the outdoors, our sun-loving culture and our geographic location coupled with our population which is predominantly Caucasian. Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australia. About two in three Australians will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer before the age of 70. Almost 980,000 new cases of BCC and SCC are treated each year. BCC can develop in young people, but it is more common in people over 40. SCC occurs mostly in people over 50. Melanoma is the most common cancer diagnosed in young people between the ages of 15 and 39. More than 13,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma in Australia every year. Australia and New Zealand have the highest rates of melanoma in the world.
skin check clinic

What causes skin cancer?

skin check in liverpool

The main cause of all types of skin cancer is overexposure to UV radiation. The vast majority (95%) of skin cancers are caused by UV exposure. When unprotected skin is exposed to UV radiation, the structure and behaviour of the cells can change. UV radiation is produced by the sun, but it can also come from artificial sources, such as the lights used in solariums (sun beds), which are now banned in Australia because research shows that people who use solariums have a high risk of developing skin cancer.

Most parts of Australia have high levels of UV radiation all year round even if it cannot be seen or felt. Unlike heat, it is also not related to temperature. It can cause:

  • sunburn
  • premature skin ageing
  • damage to skin cells, which can lead to skin cancer

Why is Australia’s sun so strong?

During summer, the Earth’s orbit brings Australia closer to the sun (compared to Europe during its summer) giving rise to 7% more solar UV exposure. In combination with clearer atmospheric conditions (due to a smaller population) it means that Australians are exposed upto 15% more UV than Europeans. Additionally, since the 1970s, a gradual thinning of the ozone layer has become apparent, especially at the North and South Poles, resulting in loss of a protective layer for UV rays, which are better able to penetrate and reach Earth. This depletion is believed to be directly related to the rise in skin cancer cases, resulting in more UV/ sun exposure and increase risk of sunburn, both of which are significant risk factors for skin cancers.

Am I at risk of skin cancer?

Anyone can develop skin cancer, but it is more common in older people. The risk is also higher in people who have:

  • Fair or freckled skin, especially if it burns easily and doesn’t tan
  • Red or fair hair and light-coloured eyes (blue or green)

  • Short, intense periods of exposure to UV radiation, e.g. on weekends or holidays or when playing sport, especially if it caused sunburn

  • Actively tanned or used solariums

  • Worked outdoors

  • A weakened immune system, due to taking certain medicines after an organ transplant (immunosuppressants) or by ongoing blood conditions that affect one’s immune system.

  • Many moles on their body or moles with an irregular shape and uneven colour (dysplastic naevi)

  • Previous skin cancer or a family history of skin cancer

  • Certain skin conditions such as sunspots.

 

People with olive or very dark skin have more protection against UV radiation because their skin produces more melanin than fair skin does BUT they can still develop skin cancer. Low risk does not mean NO risk, especially if they do not have sun protection measures in place.

 

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)

This starts in the basal cells of the epidermis. It makes up about 70% of non-melanoma skin cancers. BCC grows slowly over months or years and rarely spreads to other parts of the body. The earlier a BCC is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat. If left untreated, it can grow deeper into the skin and damage nearby tissue, making treatment more difficult. Having one BCC increases the risk of getting another. It is possible to have more than one BCC at the same time on different parts of the body.

 

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

This starts in the squamous cells of the epidermis. It makes up about 30% of non-melanoma skin cancers. SCC tends to grow quickly over several weeks or months. If left untreated, SCC

can spread to other parts of the body. This is known as invasive SCC. SCC on the lips and ears is more likely to spread.

 

Melanoma

This starts in the melanocyte (pigment producing) cells of the skin. It makes up 1–2% of all skin cancers. Although melanoma is a less common type of skin cancer, it is considered the most serious because it grows quickly and is more likely to spread to other parts of the body, such as the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, brain and bones, especially if not found early. The earlier melanoma is found, the more successful treatment is likely to be.

Skin Cancer Clinic Frequently Asked Questions

How long does a skin check take?

You may want to allow 15-30 minutes for your skin check. At your initial appointment, you will fill out some forms beforehand and then have a consulation with your doctor who will take a relevant medical history prior to conducting the examination, which is the skin check, which will take anywhere from 5-20 minutes depending on how many moles/ freckles/ sun damage you have on your body.

What does a skin check involve?

You will be asked if you are comfortable undressing down to your underwear – this is ideal and best so your doctor can see your skin without any clothes hiding any potential skin from view. The doctor will then examine your skin from head to toe, including any exposed skin on your scalp as necessary up close and with the use of a non invasive instrument with a very bright light called a dermatoscope, which is handheld and which allows them to look at moles and other lesions up close.

If we see anything of concern, we will discuss this with you at the time, and depending on the size of the lesion, and if there is time, we may offer you a biopsy then, which is a sample of the skin of concern to be sent for diagnostic pathology, or we may rebook you to come back for a biopsy or an excision biopsy (removal of the lesion entirely). This may involve an additional cost that will be discussed with you at the time.

How much does a skin check cost?

We are a privately billing clinic and the cost for a standard skin check is between $95 and $130, (weekdays only, higher rates apply on a Saturday) depending on the amount of time taken, the complexity of your needs and the number of moles.

With a valid Medicare card, the out of pocket cost is approximately $57 regardless of the cost after your patient rebate is paid to you by Medicare.

Aged Care Pension Card holders are charged a lower gap whereby the out of pocket cost is approximately is $12. There is no additional out of pocket cost for biopsies and excisions for aged care pensioners.

How often should I be having skin checks?

The general recommendation is that most adults, especially if fair skinned or fair haired, should consider beginning regular skin checks by the time they are around 25. It is recommended that all adults should check their own skin every 6 months and have a friend or partner keep an eye on areas they can’t visualise themselves such as the back, and see a doctor for a full, standard skin check at least annually, if there is no personal or family history of cancer.

Even in people with darker skin tones, low risk does not mean no risk, especially if they have had unintended sun exposure in their childhood and youth, a history of sunburns, or of tanning.

Do you provide workplace skin checks?


Yes. We are able to provide workplace skin screening for 20 or more employees as part of workplace screening. Please email the clinic directly for more information.

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Get In Touch With Us

Monday: CLOSED
Tuesday: CLOSED
Wednesday: CLOSED
Thursday: 1400– 19:00
Friday: 1400 – 19:00
Saturday: 09:00 – 15:00
Suite 9, 42 Bigge St Liverpool 2170
02 97348845
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