Health | Aussies encouraged to book a skin check for National Skin Check Day, February 25

Aussies are urged to book in for their yearly skin check to catch any potential skin cancers early.
Aussies are urged to book in for their yearly skin check to catch any potential skin cancers early.

National Skin Check Day

Skin cancer affects two in three people at some stage in their lifetime and in Australia the rates of melanoma are one of the highest, which is why non-profit organisation, Mates Against Melanoma, is calling on Aussies to get onboard and pre-book a skin check through an accredited medical professional on Australia's first and only "National Skin Check Day" on February 25.

"Not only could you save your own life, but a mate's too."

Jason Sprott, Mates Against Melanoma

Mates Against Melanoma charity founder Jason Sprott, who is battling terminal metastasis melanoma, following his diagnosis in 2004 after investigating a suspicious mole on his neck, said getting a skin check "not only could you save your own life, but a mate's too."

Sprott's aim was to have at least 1,000 skin checks completed on the day, ultimately helping young people avoid the disease in any form, let alone his 17-year battle, resulting in countless medical appointments, multiple rounds of immunotherapy, multiple surgeries to his neck, spine and brain, and a staggering $1 million+ estimated to be spent on treatment.

According to figures from the Mates Against Melanoma website:

  • Melanoma is the third most common cancer in Australian men, after prostate and bowel cancer, and it accounted for 12 per cent of all new cancers diagnosed in 2017 (estimated).
  • Melanoma is the third most common cancer in Australian women, after breast and bowel cancer, and it accounted for 9 per cent of all new cancers diagnosed in 2017 (estimated).
  • Almost 14,000 Australians are expected to be diagnosed with melanoma in 2017.
  • Melanoma represents 2 per cent of all skin cancers, but causes 75 per cent of skin cancer deaths.

Dr John Hall, President of Rural Doctors Association Australia said if melanoma is identified at an early stage, simple treatment can result in a complete cure.

Australian's are urged to pre-book, then visit their GP for a skin check on Thursday, February 25 2021.

A full list of participating Doctors is available via mam.org.au/find-doctor.

For more information on Australia's National Skin Check Day, Jason's journey, early detection and prevention please visit mam.org.au

What is melanoma?

According to the Melanoma Institute Australia, melanoma is a form of cancer that develops in the skin's pigment cells, the melanocytes. These cells produce melanin to help protect the skin from ultraviolet (UV) radiation i.e. sunlight. When melanocyte cells gather into a mass in the skin during childhood or adolescence they form a mole.

Most moles are safe, however sometimes the melanocytes in a mole begin to grow and divide in an uncontrolled way. If they start to expand outwards or down into the lower layers of the skin, they can become a melanoma.

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and grows quickly if left untreated. It can spread to the lower part of the skin (dermis), enter the lymphatic system or bloodstream and then spread to other parts of the body, like the lungs, liver, brain or bones.

The main preventable cause of melanoma is overexposure to UV radiation from the sun or things such as solarium tanning machines (sunbeds). People with fair skin, a high mole count, family history and a pattern of sunburns throughout life, especially during childhood, could also be at higher risk.

Melanoma can occur anywhere on the skin, even in areas that receive little or no sun exposure e.g. inside the mouth or on the soles of your feet.

The good news is that if detected early, melanoma can be effectively treated. You should aim for a regular skin check at least once every 12 months to improve the chances of early detection.