If you’re anything like me, the thought of stripping down to your underwear in front of complete strangers is utterly terrifying. However, the thought of going under the knife to have a skin cancer removed proved to be scarier still, so I put on my big girl pants and booked myself in to Skin – A Universal Approach for my first ever Skin Cancer check.
Going into the clinic, I had no idea of what to expect. How long does a skin cancer check take? What exactly would they be looking for? Will I need to have suspicious spots chopped out of me right then and there?
Thankfully, the experienced staff were more than happy to answer any of my questions and they very quickly put my mind at ease (The process takes about 30 minutes, they were looking for any unusual spots, and no, I most likely would not need to have anything chopped out of me right then and there).
The appointment starts with a thorough check of your hair and face. Even with my incredibly long, unruly hair, the team took no chances and went through it to be sure there were no hidden lesions on my scalp.
Once that’s done, it’s time to disrobe for the most awkward (and possibly most useful) part of the experience: total body mapping. This is where you strip down to your undies and the nurse takes around ten images of various parts of your body with a machine known as the MoleMax.
The importance of these particular photos really shines when you have your next check-up, as they allow for quick identification of any changes or additions to your skin that you may miss.
After the photography is complete, the team moves on to the in-depth all-over skin check. Using a hand held device called a dermatoscope, the team look over every part of your body and investigate any moles they see. If there are any moles that look suspicious, they will take a photograph for closer inspection.
While this is happening, you’ll be asked a few questions about skin cancer risk factors and relevant medical history. It was during this time that I learned I have a higher chance of developing a melanoma in my lifetime, as there is a history of skin cancer in my family.
Statistically speaking, melanoma is the fourth most diagnosed cancer in Australia. The five-year survival rate for people diagnosed with a melanoma is 99%, but only if the cancer is detected early. If left unchecked, the five-year survival rate drops dramatically to only 15% (source).
It is recommended that you have a skin cancer screening once per year, or more frequently if you are at high risk.
Thankfully, my story has a happy ending and I have the all-clear for the moment. A few minutes of awkwardness in my undergarments is most definitely worth the peace of mind knowing that I am skin cancer free.
To book a Skin Cancer check appointment of your own, give Skin – A Universal Approach a call on (08) 9965 4737