Why are skin checks important?

Skin cancer check

Studies show that 2 out of 3 Australians will develop skin cancer. That’s why early detection is key to successful treatment and survival. It’s important to get to know your skin and what’s normal for you, so you can identify any changes and seek early treatment.

What causes skin cancer? 

Skin cancer can develop from excessive exposure to UV radiation, either from the sun or tanning beds. People with fair skin, a history of sunburns, or a family history of skin cancer are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer. However, anyone can develop skin cancer regardless of their skin type. It’s important for everyone to prevent sun damage by wearing protective clothing, applying sunscreen, seeking shade and avoiding peak sun hours. 

Can I perform a self check?

It’s important to perform regular self-examinations of your skin between professional skin checks. This can help detect any changes or abnormalities that may have developed since your last skin check sooner rather than later. Self examinations are important to stay on top of, however most people forget to track changes on their moles, making it difficult to spot signs of skin cancer. 

With the rise in artificial intelligence, there are a number of skin check apps that can help you self-examine your skin and know when to act just by using your smartphone. These apps let you scan and photograph your skin to track changes. While these apps can be helpful, especially if you’re unable to see a health professional regularly, consider them additive to your annual health check, not as a replacement. At this stage, apps should not be used as diagnostic tool. 

Where can I get a full body skin check?

Getting a skin check from a professional means they can perform a thorough skin check, including a full body exam and any necessary biopsies, to determine if any skin changes are benign or require further evaluation.

  • Dermatologist: Dermatologists are medical specialists who specialise in the diagnosis of skin conditions, including skin cancer. They are trained to perform skin checks, including full body exams and biopsies.

  • Skin Cancer Clinics: There are many skin cancer clinics that specialise in early detection and treatment of skin cancer. These clinics offer full-body skin exams, as well as a range of treatment options. Skin exams are typically performed by a Doctor or registered nurses.

  • Mobile Skin Checks: Some providers offer mobile clinics that go to workplaces and use qualified nurses to perform the check on site. They can refer you to a General Practitioner if further evaluation is required.
  • General Practitioners: GPs can perform skin checks for cancer and examine any lesions of concern. In some cases, General Practitioners can perform a treatment without a referral to a Dermatologist. If further evaluation or treatment is needed, your GP will refer you to a specialist Dermatologist.

Good to know:

Lengthy wait times for specialist appointments are an issue across Australia. It’s good to remember that once you have a referral for a specialist, your referral can be presented to any specialist you choose, as long as they're in the referred speciality field and it’s 12-months from the date of referral. So, if the specialist your GP has referred you to isn’t available when you need an appointment, or you would like to see another specialist of your choosing, you can do so using the original referral you received.  



How much does it cost? 

If you choose to see a GP, you will pay the difference between the amount the doctor charges, and the amount that is paid by Medicare. This is often referred to as the gap fee. If your GP then refers you on to a dermatologist, you will again pay the difference between what Medicare covers and what your specialist charges.

Some health funds, like Westfund, offer benefits through their Extras cover that can help cover the cost of these preventative health tests where Medicare doesn’t pay a benefit. Check out your policy summary or give us a call to learn more.

Information sourced from Cancer Council.