Dr. John Gattera from Mount Sheridan Medical Practice discusses the importance of checking your skin for skin cancer.

Hi, I’m Dr. John Gattera, and I’d just like to have a quick chat about skin cancer checks. It’s important that we do have these checks on a regular basis to try and detect skin cancer at an early stage.

It’s important that you check your own skin because you’ll know what is normal or abnormal.

So when you do this, it’s probably best done when you get out of the shower and you’ve got a lot of skin exposed. In good lighting, have a good look around, and for those areas that you can’t see readily, get a hand mirror and have a look. If you have a willing person at home to look at your back and other places that you may not readily see, then that is a good thing too. They will get to know what is normal and abnormal on your skin. A common comment I get is, “I don’t know what I’m looking for.”

Well, it’s not important to know what you’re looking for, it’s important to know what is normal for you, and therefore what is abnormal.

So, therefore, what is abnormal is something that is new to you, new and is growing, changing, and just looking different and looks out of place. A lot of people will sometimes say, “Oh, it’s itchy, and therefore it’s suspicious.” Not all the time. But if you’re seeing something on your body that is not normal for you, and it’s itchy, then it’s a good time to go and get it checked.

Apart from having a good look at ourselves, we can follow the SunSmart message that has been around for the last 30 years. If you’re a person born before that message came out, you still can help your skin by following the SunSmart message. So if you find something abnormal on your skin, see your medical practitioner. They should start a process of diagnostic assessment and perhaps a treatment pathway. But remember that there are different types of skin cancers and therefore different treatment pathways, so getting a diagnosis is important.

But coming back to the basics, it’s important that you can reduce your chances of skin cancer by being sun smart. You can improve your detection by checking your own skin and doing that on a regular basis, perhaps once or twice a month, and going to see a doctor on an annual basis for a routine skin checkup.


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