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National Skin Cancer Action Week

The week of 17 – 23 November 2019 is National Skin Cancer Action Week  – a joined effort by Cancer Council Australia and the College of Dermatologists.

The topic of this year’s campaign is “own your tone “.

This week is a timely reminder to use sun protection and of the importance to early detect skin cancer.

Every year 2000 Australians die from skin cancers. Every 2nd Australian will suffer a non-melanoma skin cancer and about 1 in 20 even a melanoma.

However, most skin cancers can be prevented if sun protection is used and are perfectly treatable if picked up early.

So own your tone

  • Slip on sun-protective clothing
  • Slop on SPF30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen
  • Slap on a broad-brimmed hat
  • Seek shade
  • Slide on sunglasses.

Check your skin regularly and report suspicious skin lesions to your GP.

An easy way to check for signs of early skin cancer yourself is to SCAN your skin regularly (SCAN stands for:  Sore, Changing, Abnormal, New)


A spot which is sore (scaly, itchy, bleeding, tender) and doesn’t heal within 6 weeks.


Changing in size, shape, colour or texture.


Looks different, feels different, or stands out when compared to your other spots and moles.


Has appeared on your skin recently. Any new moles or spots should be checked, especially if you are over 40.

  • The more of the above SCAN features a spot or mole has the more concerning it may be (e.g. a new mole that is changing in appearance and that is abnormal is one that should be checked by a doctor urgently).
  • Most people have made all their moles by the time they are 40. A new mole after this age is more suspicious, and the older you are the more suspicious a new mole is.
  • If you do find a spot or mole of concern, see your doctor for either a “spot check” or a “full skin check”.
  • Become familiar with the spots and moles on your skin. You should check your own, and/or your partner’s skin regularly.

A one off skin check with your GP after teenage can determine your risk and how often you would need a skin check but most people benefit from three monthly to yearly self-checks of their skin.

You are at particular high risk and should have annual skin checks with your Doctor, if:

You have red hair, your skin is very pale meaning you burn very quickly, you have more than 100 spots (mole / naevus),  you have had a melanoma yourself or there is melanoma in a 1st degree family member, you have had a non-melanoma skin cancer or  loads of dry scaly sun damage.

So once again, protect yourself from the sun as best as you can and don’t hesitate to report spots or lesions that concern you to your Doctor.

Helko Schenk

GP Panaceum Medical

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