Come to us for a professional and reliable skin check in Melbourne
At the Skin Cancer Assessment and Treatment Centre in Melbourne we believe that all patients should be aware about skin cancer and its consequences. When you come in for a skin check we aim provide appropriate advice and treatment.
The Skin Cancer Assessment and Treatment Centre in Melbourne does full body skin checks for abnormal moles for men and women of all ages. Abnormal moles can be mapped and photographs taken for assessment at a later date. All people at some stage should have at least one thorough body skin check to check for abnormal moles and skin cancer.
Who will I see for my consultation?
Consultations are conducted by Dr Alan Segal or other suitably Trained Dermatologist/Skin Specialist. Dr Segal is a fully qualified dermatologist/skin specialist with over twenty years experience in this field.
Where is skin surgery carried out if required?
Most skin surgery is carried out in the rooms under local anaesthetic. Hospital admission is rarely needed.
Do I need a referral?
Referrals are not essential for a skin check or consultation however having one means Medicare will give you a higher rebate with a referral from a medical practitioner. Rebates are considerably less without a referral.
Referrals are also not essential for surgical procedures and/or pathology. Standard Medicare rebates apply with or without a referral for these services.
What tests may be carried out?
Skin samples may be taken for pathology testing. A hand held magnifying device may be used for examination and diagnosis. Blood tests are ordered as required.
What treatments are available for skin conditions?
Treatments for some conditions can include the use of creams and/or oral medications. Surgery may be required for some skin cancers. Other treatments include freezing with a liquid nitrogen spray and special light and x-ray treatments.
The question often arises, what are the typical skin cancer symptoms?
There are a number of signs that should arouse suspicion. The first is a newly developed mole that looks irregular. Other changes such as abnormal colour, irritation or bleeding are signs that should not be ignored.
Normal skin spots and moles can temporarily become irritated, sometimes through local rubbing, scratching or some minor infection. These changes will often settle spontaneously within a few weeks. If skin spot continues to cause concern, a medical practitioner should be consulted.
How can I identify if a cancerous mole?
Cancerous moles can take on various appearances. They may look different from the surrounding moles. They may cause persistent irritation or bleeding or they may show irregular colours.
Taking photographs of moles, or mole mapping, can be a useful diagnostic tool. The most important part of this process can be to note and photograph moles that look somewhat suspicious so that they can be checked at a later time and perhaps photographed again on action taken.
How are moles checked at the skin cancer clinics?
During a mole check, the total skin is examined. This is done under a good light and various parts of the skin can be checked one after another.
The Skin Cancer Assessment and Treatment Centre checks for all abnormal moles skin cancers and possible melanomas.
Dr Alan Segal (dermatologist) is a skin specialist. G.P. referrals are not necessary however a higher Medicare rebate will apply if a G.P. referral is obtained.
Mole checks and melanoma detection can be carried out in men, women and children.
The question often arises as to how often a skin cancer check should be performed?
This will depend on the age of the individual and their past history. Individuals that have not had much sun exposure and do not have many moles need less frequent checks. However in someone who burns easily and has had a great deal of sun exposure or a family or personal history of skin cancer, more frequent checks are necessary.
Initially a yearly check by those who are susceptible to sunburn or have many moles is recommended. Your examining medical practitioner will be able to guide you further on this point.
What causes moles?
The normal colour of the skin is porcelain white. The only reason that the skin tans is that there is a thin layer of colour cells beneath the skin that produce coloured pigment when exposed to sunlight. This is why we tan all over fairly evenly when we go in the sun.
Moles are actually collections of pigment cells and under normal circumstances they do not cause any problem. Because more pigment cells are present within moles, these have more of a chance of producing abnormalities than the thin layer of cells all over the skin. That is not to say that abnormal moles can not appear out of apparently normal skin.
Individuals at higher risk are those that have fair skin, blue eyes, red hair and burn easily.
Individuals with large numbers of moles or very large moles are also at higher risk.
A large number of irregular looking moles can also suggest an increased predisposition for malignant change.
If someone in the family has a history of skin cancer or melanoma, there may also be an increased chance of these occurring in other members of the family.
It is suggested that if one is worried about any moles, one should consult a specialist mole check clinic such as the Skin Cancer Assessment and Treatment Centre in Melbourne.
If a mole looks suspicious, further investigations could include taking a small piece of the mole or a biopsy or under some circumstances have the whole mole removed and have it examined by a pathologist.
The Skin Cancer Assessment and Treatment Centre in Melbourne carries out all these procedures.
Most moles can be removed under local anaesthetic, however very large or dangerous moles may need a general anaesthetic which is done in hospital.
How dangerous are moles and skin cancers?
The most common form of mole is a sun spot or solar keratosis. These occur in sun exposed areas. They do have an increased risk of turning into skin cancer but this is rather small, being about 1 in 100 to 1 in 200. These skin abnormalities can be treated with creams or by freezing with liquid nitrogen.
The most common form of skin cancer is the basal cell carcinoma, which accounts for about 90% of all skin cancers. These occur mainly in sun exposed areas and appear as red ulcerated or bleeding moles. These skin cancers do not spread to other parts of the body and removal by excision or curettage if often the treatment of choice. Once removed these are then checked by a pathologist. Some skin cancers such as basal cell carcinomata can be treated with special creams.
In very difficult or complicated skin cancers, x-ray treatment may be used as back up. A more dangerous form of skin cancer is the squamous cell carcinoma and represents about 8% of all skin cancers. These need to be excised (cut out) and examined by a pathologist. There is a chance that these can spread but this is less likely if they are removed early.
A very dangerous form of skin cancer is the melanoma which is produced from skin pigment cells. These have an increased tendency to spread even when they are fairly thin and rapid identification and removal is suggested and essential. In melanomas that have spread over recent times, very successful immune therapies have been developed to treat them.
Many very early melanomas may be completely cured if removed early.
How can I prevent skin cancer?
Prevention of skin cancer occurs by avoiding direct sunlight as much possible. Wearing appropriate clothing and hats often gives adequate protection, however a broad spectrum sunscreen is a useful adjunct in uncovered areas. When sweating or bathing, a water resistant sun block is suggested, and re-applying of sun screen a number of times a day is suggested as the effect of the sun screen can wear off over time.
Many abnormal moles are obvious to an individual if they can be seen, however, ones back and the back of ones legs and scalp are very difficult for an individual to see themselves. In these situations another person should intermittently look at these areas to see if any changes have occurred.
How can I self examine myself for skin cancer check?
An important part of skin cancer detection is a person’s self examination. Many individuals believe that they cannot identify an abnormal mole. This is not necessarily so. Many patients, if they can see an abnormal mole often pick it themselves. This is not to say that every mole that an individual believes is abnormal is so. However it merely means that a check by a medical professional should then be undertaken.
There are some parts of the body where an individual cannot see on their skin, such as the backs of the legs, the back, back of the neck and some areas of the scalp. If this is the case another individual can intermittently check these areas.
With modern phones that have excellent cameras, it is quite reasonable for an individual to take a photograph of their own moles with a date attached and then look at it at a later date. It is difficult to remember what a mole may have looked like.
Many patients bring before and after shots of the mole for the doctor to examine and these are very helpful. The doctor may also take photographs of a particular mole.
I believe examination of individual moles that look suspicious is the most appropriate form of examination and that total body scans are not as useful.
What are skin cancer – symptoms I should be watchful of while examining myself?
The warning signs, that indicate a mole is abnormal is firstly its appearance, moles that are irritable and stay so for more than three to four weeks for no particular reason such as local rubbing, bleeding, change in colour or a change in shape.
Individuals, who have a family history of skin cancer, that burn easily or have had a lot of sun exposure or tanning exposure, should have a one to two yearly examination by a medical professional. Some individuals that have none of these risk factors only need to be seen occasionally.
What is malignant melanomas?
Malignant melanomas are potentially a very dangerous form of skin cancer. This is so because melanoma cells in the skin do not stick together and tend to spread to other parts of the body easily. The aggressiveness of a melanoma is often determined by its depth. This is measured very carefully by the pathologist and in fact, the type of treatment that is given will depend on how deeply a melanoma has penetrated into the skin.
Some melanomas may be very large and be quite obvious but this is not necessarily the most important factor in determining their seriousness. Removal and having the mole examined by a pathologist is the best test of how serious a melanoma may be.
The stages of melanoma are determined by the depth into the skin. A very early stage melanoma just stays within the surface skin cells but more aggressive melanomas go deeper into the skin. Some deeper melanomas can spread to other parts of the body.
How are malignant melanomas treated?
The treatment for melanoma is always, in the first instance, excision. Whether further investigation is needed depends on its depth.
If a melanoma goes below a certain depth, it is advisable that local lymph nodes be taken out and examined.
In deeper melanomas, x-rays, CAT scans PET scans can be carried out to determine if the melanoma has spread elsewhere.
Until recently surgical excision was the most effective treatment. Over recent years, a number of very successful drug treatments have been discovered, some of which attack the melanoma cells themselves and others which stimulate the immune system to attack the melanoma.
In some advanced melanomas these treatments have proved very successful however continued vigilance is always necessary.
In individuals who have a suppressed immune system such as a blood condition such as lymphoma or leukaemia are more prone to develop melanoma.These Individuals may have had sunlight in the past, but as the immune system is diminished, the body’s ability to removal abnormal cells is also diminished.
Individuals that are on immune suppressant drugs for conditions such as transplants are also at increased risk and need to be followed very carefully.
Come to us in Melbourne for a skin check which is thorough and comprehensive.