Skin cancer occurs when skin cells are damaged, for example, by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Approximately, two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70, with more than 750,000 people treated for one or more non-melanoma skin cancers in Australia each year. Non-melanoma skin cancer is more common in men, with almost double the incidence compared to women.
Excluding non-melanoma skin cancer, melanoma is the third most common cancer in Australians. In 2013, 12,744 Australians were diagnosed with melanoma.
Every year, in Australia:
- skin cancers account for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers
- the majority of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun
- GPs have over 1 million patient consultations per year for skin cancer
- the incidence of skin cancer is one of the highest in the world, two to three times the rates in Canada, the US and the UK.
Skin cancer symptoms
Skin cancer symptoms include the following
- any crusty, non-healing sores
- small lumps that are red, pale or pearly in colour
- new spots, freckles or any moles changing in colour, thickness or shape over a period of weeks to months (especially those dark brown to black, red or blue-black in colour).
The sooner a skin cancer is identified and treated, the better is the patient’schance of avoiding surgery or, in the case of a serious melanoma or other skin cancer, potential disfigurement or even death.
Treatment of skin cancer
When a suspicious skin lesionis identifiedby adoctor who has undertakentraining in dermatoscopy, the lesioncan be removedby surgical excision. liquid nitrogen, electrocauteryor prescription creams. Alternatively, the doctor may decide to take a small piece of the affected area and send it to a laboratory for further analysis.
At East Canberra General Practice, two doctors have experience and training in the removal of suspicious lesions.
Dr David Gregory has developed a strong interest in skin cancer management and prevention during the last 30 years. He regularly undergoes training in the skin cancer field to maintain his skills at a high level.
Dr Hamilton’s interest in skin cancer treatment began when he started working for a commercial dermato-pathology laboratory in Brisbane in 2003. He has completed furthertraining on skin cancer and has received a diploma through the Australasian College ofSkin Cancer Medicine in 2012 and a certificate in dermoscopy through the Skin Cancer College of Australasia in 2013.