Early detection is key to the successful treatment of skin cancer.
Unfortunately, skin cancer can be easy to miss on your own skin, as you neglect to notice slight changes over time or are too busy to remember to study your skin regularly.
Moreso, skin cancer tends to pop up in places we don’t periodically examine such as on the back, the neck, the torso, behind the legs and even on the soles of the feet.
If you aren’t regularly visiting a skin doctor, you may be subconsciously relying on those around you to alert you to any changes in your skin, like the assistant manager for the Canuck's hockey team did. This is risky as often; an untrained eye will not know what to look for, chalking up strange bruises to clumsiness or assuming small bumps are of no consequence.
Skin Care Professionals of All Types...
Some professionals who work with skin every day are trained to know what to look out for, or they have a keen eye to spot changes on their client’s skin that they get to know over time.
Facials are a rare special treat for some and an essential aspect of an effective skincare routine for others. In Jillian Murray’s case, a facial saved her life.
From Spa Day to Skin Clinic Day
Ms Murray is within the age bracket and has a skin type that places her at high risk of skin cancer, being over 50 with fair skin, blonde hair, and brown eyes.
Unfortunately, even in doing her due diligence by seeing her general practitioner for a skin check, she was given false peace of mind that a suspicious spot was nothing of concern. It wasn’t until her beautician saw the spot and urged her to get a second opinion that Jillian was alerted to the actual danger of the out of the ordinary.
Thankfully, she went straight to a skin specialist who didn’t hesitate to do a biopsy, soon diagnosing her with stage two melanoma on her chest and basal cell carcinoma on her nose. This quick thinking and fast turnaround of results allowed her to have life-saving surgery before the cancer could spread into her lymph nodes, which would result in a world of worry.
Jillian got very lucky to have a beautician who has worked on her skin for 6 years and knows what to look out for. This duty of care from her beautician and the urgency of Jillian seeking further opinions, inspired by her knowledge of skin cancer, ultimately combined to save her life.
Click here to read more about Jillian’s experience.
From this article, there are a few key learnings we wish to pass on to our clients and future clients.
Your Key Skin Tips Include:
1. The importance of seeing a skin specialist
Unfortunately, not all doctors are trained in spotting skin cancer. Without knowing what to look for, things can be easily missed or passed over as non-concerning. In Jillian’s case, the onus to urge a second opinion was up to her beautician, who has studied skin her whole career and specifically knew her client’s skin, including what is abnormal.
In your case, it may fall on a friend or family member who happens to notice a strange spot appearing where it shouldn’t. Leaving the health of your skin up to this much chance is a recipe for disaster, and often, even getting your skin checked by a GP who is not specifically trained in skin cancer detection is not enough to achieve a guaranteed all clear. The only true way to move through your life with peace of mind around your skin is to visit a dedicated skin cancer clinic.
2. Have the right level of urgency
Thankfully, Jillian had the due diligence to see her doctor about her skin concerns, and even when given all clear, understood the importance of seeking a second opinion. If you or anybody else notices something strange about your skin, getting to a dedicated skin clinic quickly should be your priority.
If Jillian’s skin cancer had been left any longer, it would’ve spread to her lymph nodes and bloodstream, putting her life at risk, and making treatment much more difficult. By the time she received the second opinion, she was just outside the margin for a much more extensive surgery on her lymph nodes, making healing a much simpler affair and treatment more effective.
3. Knowing the signs to look out for
Early detection of skin cancer is key to effective treatment. Unlike most other cancers, skin cancer is cancer you can see forming on the outside of the body. Knowing what to look for can save your life, giving you the power to detect skin cancer early when it's easiest to cure and before it becomes too dangerous.
A self-exam once a month, checking the face, neck, chest, back, arms, legs, and feet, plus an annual professional skin check (more often if you are at high risk), is usually enough to inform of any potential risks.
According to the Melanoma Institute of Australia, when performing your skin check, look out for:
- Asymmetrical or oddly shaped spots
- A spot with an irregular border or notched edge
- Blotchy colours or moles with different colours throughout
- A spot that is changing or growing
- The surface of a mole is becoming rough, scaly, or ulcerated
- Moles that bleed, itch, tingle, or weep
- Any spots that look different from others on your body
Developing a regular habit of checking your skin and booking with your skin specialist can save your life. As you understand what is normal for your skin over time, you will gain further peace of mind and confidence, putting you one step ahead of this sneaky and dangerous cancer.
4. Not delaying treatment
Thankfully, Jillian’s skin specialist didn’t hesitate to perform a biopsy, and once the results were in, it was all systems go for her treatment plan. Unfortunately, many people are scared about going under the knife or even getting a biopsy, resulting in weeks of ruminating as their cancer grows.
As previously mentioned, Jillian’s cancer was caught and removed right before it entered her lymph nodes, which would have resulted in a very different story being written.
If you have any concerns, if your doctor wishes to perform a biopsy, or your results indicate the need for further treatment - don’t delay.
You can be certain about your skin cancer check with Sun Doctors. Don’t put off your skin check, biopsy, or treatment any longer by getting in touch with the team that prioritises quick turnarounds, thorough skin checks and effective treatment.
Click here to book at a clinic near you or give us a call on 13 SKIN for more information.