Skin cancer screenings

04.04.16

Skin cancer screening can provide a quick insight into a person’s potential risk of developing skin cancer to help them better protect themselves, and it can bring to light any current signs that may need further investigation.

It generally involves a doctor using a dermatoscope to have a close up/magnified look at any spots of concern. ‘Mole scanning’ and ‘mole mapping’ are another method and are becoming increasingly popular but, as the jury is out on whether the latter are any better for detection or diagnosis of skin cancer, they’re not a substitute for regular self-checks or checks by a doctor, or suitably-trained health professional.

It’s important to remember that skin cancer screening checks are just that – a check. They are not meant to be a diagnosis. Skin checks may not always pick up if there is a problem, particularly if they don’t involve a full body assessment. And if a ‘suspicious’ lesion is found during a routine skin check, it’s recommended people follow up with a qualified health care professional as soon as possible. A GP visit is a good first port of call. The Cancer Council recommends a GP visit as the first point of call.

Early detection in the workplace

According to John Huijsen, Director Corporate & International at Bupa, with less than 30% of employees motivated to have routine checkups, tests or health screenings, employers are ideally positioned to influence the health and wellbeing of their people by delivering early intervention measures, such as skin cancer screening checks.

John says, “This ‘sunburnt country’ has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Each year, more than 430,000 people are treated for one or more non-melanoma skin cancers, and doctors diagnose almost 13,000 new cases of melanoma. By providing skin cancer screening in the workplace, employers may play an important role in helping people find skin cancer early, when something as dangerous as melanoma is more likely to be cured.”

At the National Melanoma Awards last October, Bupa’s passionate commitment to caring was recognised when we won the Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility Award for our Skin Cancer Check Program. In partnership with Skin Smart Australia, we provide a premium service to our own people and our Bupa Wellness clients, which includes skin cancer screenings, and sun safety educational sessions.

Vigilance is key

While workers may feel some sense of security when workplaces provide annual skin cancer checks within the regular medical examination activities, it’s important they not come to rely too heavily on these and potentially fail to notice a skin cancer that appears in the interim. As recommended by the Cancer Council, workplaces should also focus on ensuring appropriate measures are in place to protect workers from unsafe levels of UV radiation, encouraging them to examine their own skin, and providing information to help people identify a mole or freckle that has changed in size, shape or colour.

Sources:

Cancer Council Australia [Online] Available from: www.cancer.org.au

Cancer Council Australia’s. Position statement: Screening and early detection of skin cancer [Online; accessed Feb 2016] Available from: http://www.cancer.org.au/policy-and-advocacy/position-statements/sun-smart/
Cancer Council NSW. Where to get your skin checked [Online; accessed Feb 2016] Available from: www.cancercouncil.com.au

Scanyourskin.org. What happens during a skin check? [Online; accessed Feb 2016] Available from: www.scanyourskin.org

Sinclair R. Skin checks. Australian Family Physicians. 2012; 41(7): 464-469. Available from: www.racgp.org.au