Checking for skin cancer

Most skin cancer can be successfully treated if it is found early. But without treatment, skin cancer can be deadly.

Get to know your skin and what looks normal for you to help you find changes earlier. Get into the habit of checking your skin regularly.

This is also important if you have naturally dark skin. Although your risk of melanoma is lower, it is more likely to be found at a later, more dangerous stage than people with lighter skin.

Checking your skin

Most skin cancers are found by people checking their own skin, or are noticed by a loved one. There is no evidence to support screening programs for skin cancer at a population level.

Find a room with good light and a full length mirror. If you are on your own, use a hand-held mirror as well to check skin you cannot see (your scalp, back, etc.).

Undress and check all of your skin, not just sun-exposed areas. This includes your underarms, scalp, groin, and the soles of your feet.

If you notice anything unusual, including any new spots, or change in shape, colour or size of a spot, visit your doctor as soon as possible. Read more about the signs of skin cancer.

It's time to go through a do-it-yourself skin examination: first find a room with good light and a full length mirror. If you are on your own have a hand-held mirror to check difficult to see areas. Undress completely and start examining your skin, body part-by-body part, until you have checked your whole body.

Watch the video below for a step-by-step approach to a self-examination.

Video supplied courtesy of Leo Pharma.

Skin cancer clinics

If you don't have a regular doctor, you can make an appointment with any doctor for a skin examination.

Some people may attend a skin clinic rather than visit their doctor. There are many skin clinics offering a variety of services and fee arrangements.

Research shows skin cancer clinics may not necessarily offer a higher level of expertise than your doctor. Before deciding whether to go to a skin clinic, it is important you find out about the services offered and the expertise of the employees.

Cancer Council Victoria does not operate or endorse any skin cancer clinics.

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A handy picture guide to skin cancers, warning signs and harmless spots.
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