Australia leads the world in deaths from skin cancer.

That’s a scary statistic and, with our high levels of UV and our culturally ingrained love of the sun, it’s easy to see how the diagnoses can quickly stack up.

However, skin cancer doesn’t have to be fatal. In almost every case, early detection and simple treatment can result in total removal of skin cancer.

That’s why skin cancer checks are important for every Australian.

When should I start having regular skin cancer checks?

Melanoma is the most common cancer in young Australians (15-39 year olds), and approximately 2,500 Australians aged 25-49 years will be diagnosed with melanoma each year. Two in every three Australians will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer before their 70th birthday.

For this reason, it’s important to have full body skin checks and it’s really never too early to start.

If you have skin spots that are changing rapidly or causing pain, irritation and/or concern, you should see a skin cancer professional for a full body skin check as soon as possible.

How often should I have my skin checked?

This will depend on your own unique circumstances and the answers may be influenced by the following:

  • the number and seriousness of previous skin cancers
  • age
  • Fitzpatrick skin type
  • recreational sun habits
  • work-related sun exposure
  • frequency of sunscreen use
  • visible active sun damage
  • family history
  • immune status.

For those at low risk of skin cancer, skin checks may only be required every few years or when a change in the skin is noticed. For those with a high risk of skin cancer, regular skin checks will assist with early diagnosis, thereby increasing the likelihood of successful treatment and cure.

The Scan Your Skin survey is a useful tool for assessing your risk

It’s also highly recommended that you perform regular self checks of your skin, so that you can be aware of any changes. Depending on your level of skin cancer risk, you should perform self skin checks between two and 12 times per year.

Learn how to conduct a self-check here.

Should my children have skin cancer checks?

A skin check is extremely unlikely to reveal skin cancer in children. However, some parents like to bring their children in for a skin check for peace of mind and to teach their children about the importance of sun protection.

Typically, our most vulnerable sun-exposure years are in our childhood; and children who are habitually exposed to Australia’s high UV index are much more more likely to develop skin cancer as adults than those in other parts of the world.

The bottom line, is that even if it’s too late to avoid extreme sun exposure, it’s not too late to stop skin cancer in its tracks.

If you’re due for a skin check, have never had a skin check, or have noticed changes to your skin spots, we recommend booking in for a professional skin examination.