Check for skin cancer

The sooner skin cancer is found, the easier it is to treat.

The best way to ensure skin cancer is found early is to get to know your skin and what’s normal for you. Any changes including new spots, or changes in shape, colour or size of an existing spot should be checked by your GP.

The Australasian College of Dermatologists suggests checking your skin from head to toe every three months (with the change of each season).

How to check for skin cancer

Check your face, scalp, neck, shoulders, whole torso, arms, armpits, legs and feet

  1. Find a well-lit room with enough space to inspect every part of your body. For your back this means also having a mirror accessible to you or better still ask a family member or friend to check your back.
  2. Start at the head and work down your body, this includes your hair line, neck, fingers, elbows, behind your legs and soles of your feet. Be thorough and make sure you double check you’ve looked at your whole body. To make this easier you can take photos of your skin to remember what it looks like.
  3. Take note of anything that changes, whether it is size, shape or colour. If you notice changes, make a note of this and book an appointment with a GP.
  4. Take note of new spots. If you notice new spots appearing, particularly on your back, neck, hairline or soles of your feet, book an appointment with a GP.

Listen to Director of the Victorian Melanoma Service, Associate Professor Victoria Mar as she explains how easy it is to do a skin check

Checking our skin

What to look for when checking for skin cancer

Skin spots that are new, changed in colour, changed in size, bleeding, changed in shape, different to others

Skin cancer can appear as an existing spot that has changed in colour, size or shape or a new or unusual looking spot, including a lump or sore which doesn’t heal or may bleed.

Melanoma signs and symptoms

Melanomas can grow anywhere on the body, not just the parts of your skin that have been exposed to the sun’s UV.
Melanomas can appear as a new spot or an existing spot that changes in colour, size or shape. The spot may increase in size or elevation, become scaly, have an irregular shape or lack symmetry, and it may itch or bleed easily.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) signs and symptoms

SCC are often found on the parts of your body that have had the most UV exposure, such as the head, neck, hands, forearms and lower legs.

They can appear as a thickened, red, scaly or crusted spot or rapidly growing lump that may bleed and become inflamed and is often tender to touch.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) signs and symptoms

BCCs often develop on body parts that get more UV exposure, like your head, face, neck, shoulders, lower arms and legs, but can appear anywhere on the body.

They may appear as a pearl-coloured lump or slightly scaly area that is shiny and pale or bright pink, or some may appear darker. Some may ulcerate, bleed and fail to heal completely.


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