Skin checks are regular skin examinations that are performed as a preventative approach to skin cancer. Skin checks are recommended for the early detection of skin cancers and melanoma. Dermatologists specialise in providing expert diagnosis and early detection of skin cancers. Dermatologists in Australia have the most rigorous training in skin cancer detection and are the recognised experts by medicare.
WHY IS A SKIN CHECK DONE?
Skin checks or skin exams should be done regularly by dermatologists as most skin cancers can be found at an early stage during these exams. Treatment of skin cancers at an early stage is simpler than lesions which have been left for years. Australians report an extremely high rate of skin cancer because of our environment and lifestyle.
Generally, regular skin checks are especially important for people with the following conditions:
- Reduced immunity
- Very fair complexion
- Strong family history of skin cancer and melanoma
- History of skin cancer
- Multiple instances of sun spots and sunburns
- Multiple abnormal-looking moles
- Experience of using solariums
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT DURING A SKIN CHECK?
During your visit with a dermatologist for a skin check, a careful and complete examination of your skin will be done as a part of your routine cancer-related checkup. Your dermatologist will answer your questions about the examination. The entire skin will be examined, and may include the hair, nails and mucosal surfaces. An appropriate light source and magnification may be used to distinguish lesions and rashes.
Some of the specialised skin examination techniques include:
- Dermoscopy, used to diagnose melanoma and abnormal moles
- Skin biopsy
- Dermoscopic photographs
- Full body photographs
Dermatologists at Melbourne City Dermatology will assess your skin as a whole and, in addition to detecting skin cancers early, can advise on other skin problems found during your skin check, such as rashes and acne.
What should I expect after the skin check?
If any suspicious lesions are detected during your routine skin check, further diagnostic tests, such as a skin biopsy, may be advised. Based on the results of these tests, a treatment plan is suggested which may include either nonsurgical methods or surgical removal of the lesion. In addition to our dermatologist’s skin examination, we advise regular skin self-examination at home. If you find any new or changing skin lesion in between appointments, contact our clinic or your GP for a review immediately.
The Cancer Council has some guidelines on skin self-exams at home:
How does a dermatologist differ from a skin cancer specialist?
Dermatologists are the specialist doctors recognised by Medicare to provide expert diagnosis and management of skin disorders. All dermatologists who are fellows of the Australasian College of Dermatologists have had extensive clinical training over many years in the diagnosis and management of skin cancers, including skin surgical procedures.
After working for several years as a doctor, an aspirant dermatologist undertakes at least four additional years of full-time study and examinations to become a qualified dermatologist in Australia. A dermatologist becomes a member of the Australasian College of Dermatologists only after an extensive and rigorous examination process at the end of four years of speciality training. Further, dermatologists are required to maintain an extremely high standard of ongoing education after receiving their speciality training to remain fellows of the college.
You may come across skin cancer clinics staffed with doctors having qualifications such as membership in a college of skin cancer medicine or a diploma in practical or clinical dermatology. These are NOT specialist qualifications and are not recognised as such by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency or Medicare. The training associated with these qualifications is aimed at GPs and usually involves a short fee-paying course requiring several days to weeks.
How long is the waiting list to consult a dermatologist?
At Melbourne City Dermatology, we are providing additional appointments to try and keep our waiting list short. It is likely that you will be seen within 2 weeks if you need a skin check. For very urgent conditions, an urgent referral form may be downloaded and sent directly to our clinic by your GP. An example of an urgent case is suspected melanoma. For these situations, we can arrange an urgent appointment within 2 working days.
To check the available appointments, please ring our receptionists at (03) 9939 8115.
Do you bulk-bill skin checks?
At Melbourne City Dermatology, we provide you with the best possible service and outcome for your skin health. This involves taking sufficient time to plan and discuss your treatments as well as providing a professional environment and consulting rooms with specialised equipment for your treatment. Due to the high costs incurred in running a specialist medical practice, we do not bulk-bill our appointments.
If you get a referral letter from your GP, it is possible to claim a portion of the fees back from Medicare. This enables us to keep your GP informed regarding your treatment course as we always send a report back to your GP following your visit.
For patients who have extensive skin cancer and require multiple treatments or visits to the clinic, we consider the costs incurred and try to limit your out-of-pocket expenses.
Department of Veterans’ Affairs patients (veterans) with appropriate cover are treated without out-of-pocket costs. If you have further questions regarding appointments or fees, feel free to call our reception staff at (phone).
Can I have photos taken?
We have access to a fully equipped photographic studio at Melbourne City Dermatology for full-body photography. Not all patients require this during their ongoing skin survey. Patients who can benefit from this service are those with several irregular moles and those who find difficulty in monitoring their skin at home. Fullbody photography needs a separate appointment, at a different clinic, and lasts for at least 30 minutes. If only one area of the body requires a photo, then your dermatologist will take it during your skin check visit at Melbourne City Dermatology.
Who qualifies for a Medicare rebate?
If you bring a referral form from your GP, you are eligible to claim from Medicare a portion of the consultation fee, which is currently $72.75 for new patients.