nurse Maitland skin checks

FAQ’s

The Elixir @ Hunter team have answered many of the questions you may have about skin checks at our Maitland clinic.

nurse Maitland skin checks

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS


  • Why is a skin cancer check important?
  • How often should full body skin cancer check be done?
  • Do I need to prepare for the skin check?
  • What to expect on the day of consultation.
  • What treatments are available for skin cancers?
  • Where is skin cancer surgery carried out if required?
  • Where are we located and parking facilities.
  • Is there a disabled/wheelchair access to the premises.
  • Do I need a referral to make an appointment?
  • Skin Cancer Risk
  • How dangerous are moles and skin cancers?
  • How can I prevent skin cancers?
  • Self examination of moles
  • How is melanoma treated?
  • Can you get a skin check when pregnant?
  • Facts about skin cancers
Why is a skin cancer check important?

Full body skin cancer check includes checking your entire body from head to toe, to find and diagnose all established skin cancers or moles or lesions that may be harmful or precancerous and can turn into  life threatening skin cancers. Regular full body skin cancer checks by a skilled doctor will give you the best chance of catching skin cancers early.

For more information click on the link below:

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/should-i-be-tested-for-skin-cancer

How often should full body skin cancer check be done?

Our doctors recommend a full body skin check every 12 months but it can vary depending on skin type and solar damage of the skin. It also depends 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 cancers, more frequent checks are necessary. 

Do I need to prepare for the skin check?

There is no particular preparation required for the skin checks. However we recommend that you remove all makeup prior to skin checks as that may interfere with the checks. If you need wipes for same please ask our friendly reception staff.

What to expect on the day of consultation.

If you are getting a full body skin check then you would need to undress down to your underwear. We understand that this can be uncomfortable for some patients so we can provide you with sheets and can do top and bottom half of the body separately.

We may also take photographs of some of the skin lesions (with your consent) and keep in your file for later comparison or our records. These are dermoscopic pictures of the lesions and there are no identifying features in the photographs. You can refuse any photography if you so wish to.

Skin samples (biopsies) may be taken for pathology testing for suspicious lesions. This will be discussed and explained before the procedure.

What treatments are available for skin cancers?

Surgery is the most definite treatment for most skin cancers. However other treatments for some conditions can include the use of creams and/or oral medications. Other treatments include freezing with a liquid nitrogen spray and special light treatments.

Where is skin cancer surgery carried out if required?

Most skin surgery is carried out at the procedure rooms in our custom build skin cancer clinic. Please check the link https://elixirhunter.com.au/pages/about-us/ to view photos of our high quality custom build skin cancer clinic. Most skin cancer diagnostic and treatment procedures can be done under local anaesthetic, however very large or dangerous skin cancers may need a general anaesthetic which is done in hospital.

Please check the link https://elixirhunter.com.au/home/services/ to check our services and pricing.

Where are we located and parking facilities.

We are located at 215 High Street, opposite the newly built Maitland Sports ground. We have three dedicated patient parkings (including a disabled parking) at the rear of the building and there is plenty of roadside parking available around the clinic.

Is there a disabled/wheelchair access to the premises.

There is a wheelchair access including a disabled car park available at the rear of the building. The rear door is locked due to safety reasons so please ring the doorbell upon arrival.

Do I need a referral to make an appointment?

Referrals are not essential for a skin check or consultation. Standard Medicare rebates apply with or without a referral for these services.

Skin Cancer Risk

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. 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.

How dangerous are moles and skin cancers?

The most common form of sun damaged lesion 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 is often the treatment of choice. Once removed these are then checked by a pathologist. Some skin cancers such as superficial basal cell carcinoma can be treated with special creams but the efficacy of treatment is low as compared to surgical treatments.

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.

Please check the links below for more information on various types of skin cancers.

 https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/skin-cancer-and-melanomas 

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/basal-cell-carcinoma 

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/squamous-cell-carcinoma

How can I prevent skin cancers?

Skin cancers can be prevented by avoiding direct sunlight as much as possible. Avoiding going out in the sun during peak times (approximately 10am to 4pm) in summer when there is maximum effect of the UV rays, helps to protect the skin. 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 sunblock is suggested, and re-applying a number of times a day is suggested as the effect of the sun screen can wear off over time.

Please check the link https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/sun-protection-infographic to understand more about sun protection. Please check the link https://www.cancercouncilshop.org.au/category/sunscreen to review different sunscreen options. 

Self examination of moles

Please check the link https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/moles to understand more about moles. We recommend self skin checks every 3-4 months. Many abnormal moles are obvious to an individual if they can be seen, however, moles on the back and the back of one’s 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.

Melanoma Institute Australia advises on game of mole   https://gameonmole.com.au/  and highly recommends taking self photos before and after summer to check for any change in moles. 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. Any skin lesions or 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, needs expert medical opinion. Please consult us if you have any skin lesions or moles like that.

Please check the link https://www.cancer.org.au/cancer-information/causes-and-prevention/sun-safety/check-for-signs-of-skin-cancer to understand more about signs of skin cancers.

Please check the link https://www.cancer.org.au/cancer-information/causes-and-prevention/sun-safety/preventing-skin-cancer to understand skin cancer prevention.

How is melanoma 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. This special treatment is done at the special Melanoma Clinic at the Calvary Mater Hospital. 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. Individuals who have a suppressed immune system such as lymphomas or leukaemia are more prone to develop melanoma.In these Individuals the immune system is diminished and the body’s ability to remove abnormal cells is reduced. Individuals that are on immunosuppressant drugs for conditions such as transplants are also at increased risk and need to be followed very carefully.

Please check the link https://www.melanoma.org.au/ to get more information on Melanoma

Can you get a skin check when pregnant?

During pregnancy, a lot of moles and lesions naturally get dark due to pregnancy related hormones. It’s always better to consult a doctor trained in skin cancer management in case there is any suspicion. The skin cancer check and treatment can be done during pregnancy, and it is always recommended to have the treatment of dangerous skin cancers like melanoma at the earliest possible even when pregnant.

Facts about skin cancers
  • You don’t have to get sunburnt to get cancer. Solariums emit a lot of UV (ultraviolet) radiation than the midday summer sun. 
  • You can get sunburnt in a car. While the glass in vehicles and building windows filters out some UV radiation, you can still get burnt if you routinely spend a lot of time near a window in the middle of the day. People who drive cars and trucks for a living, for example, should protect themselves with a long-sleeved and collared shirt, sunglasses and sunscreen — especially if they drive with the side window down.
  • Melanoma isn’t the only skin cancer that can kill. While people diagnosed with melanoma, a type of skin cancer, are less likely to survive than people diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC), the Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is also a life threatening skin cancer if it is too aggressive or if not treated in  time. it is rare to die from a BCC, which is a slow-growing cancer that does not spread to other parts of the body.
  • There is currently no screening program for melanomas or NMSC. You should check your skin routinely for irregular or changing lesions and, if you’re at high risk of skin cancer, get an annual check by your doctor or at a skin cancer clinic or with a dermatologist.
  • People with olive or dark skin can get cancer too

Please check the link https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/blog/the-truth-about-skin-cancer for more information and data on myths and facts about skin cancers.

Copyright ElixirHunter 2021. All rights reserved.