Skin cancer early detection

Regular skin checks can help maximise the chances of detecting skin cancer early.

Living in Australia we have one of the highest incidences of skin cancer in the world. However, there is good news; when detected early your chances of successful treatment are increased. But, in order to stop skin cancer spreading, it has to be spotted it in time.

Unlike other cancers that develop in the body, skin cancer is a cancer you can usually see. It forms on the outside and is usually visible, giving it a good chance of being spotted.

By regularly self-checking your skin, you can help to identify the signs of skin cancer and maximise the chances of detecting skin cancer early. The first sign of a skin cancer can be a new spot, or an existing freckle or mole changing size, shape or colour over weeks or months.

Getting to know your skin and what’s normal for you will help you find changes earlier. If you notice any sore, changing, abnormal or new spots during your self-check, have it checked by a GP or dermatologist straight away.

In addition to self-checking regularly, it is also important to get regular professional skin checks by your GP, dermatologist or a skin cancer clinic.

How to get a skin check

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Professional skin check

In addition to self-checking regularly, it is also important to get regular professional skin checks by your GP, dermatologist or a skin cancer clinic.

Book a skin check with a GP

Firstcheck spot check

TAL is partnering with Firstcheck to provide 1,500 Free Spot Check Packages2. So, if you have a suspicious mole or spot you can send photos directly to an Australian skin cancer expert for an online review anytime, anywhere.

Get a free Firstcheck spot check

What to look for at home

The Skin Cancer College of Australasia recommends that once a month you “SCAN” your skin looking for spots or moles that are:

  • SORE - A spot which is sore (scaly, itchy, bleeding or tender) and doesn’t heal within 6 weeks
  • CHANGING - In appearance (size, shape, colour or texture)
  • ABNORMAL - Looks different, feels different, or stands out when compared to other spots and moles (e.g. the ‘Ugly Duckling’ – see below)
  • NEW - Spots that have appeared recently

Ugly ducklings: most moles and spots on your body are the same or are similar-looking to each other. Compare your spots with other spots on your body. If any mole or spot stands out or looks noticeably different from that of surrounding spots, it is the “Ugly Duckling”, and should be professionally checked by a GP or dermatologist.

How to check your skin at home

Here are simple steps to check and become familiar with your skin so you can identify any changes.

  1. In a well-lit room, undress completely and use a full-length mirror to check your whole body, including areas not exposed to the sun
  2. If you’re on your own, use a handheld mirror to check areas that are difficult to see, like your scalp and back, or ask a friend or family member to help
  3. Spend extra time checking your face, neck, shoulders, back, arms, top of your hands, legs, soles of your feet and between your toes

Visit the Cancer Council for more skin-safe tips.

In addition to regular checks at home, you should visit your GP or skin cancer clinic for a professional check. You can talk to them about your skin type and ask for advice on early detection. They can tell you how frequently you should be getting professional skin checks to complement your regular self-checks.

  1. TAL SpotChecker Australian Skin Safety Report, 2020