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Everything you need to know to prepare for your visit

Here, we aim to provide valuable information to help you prepare for your appointment, understand our procedures and policies, and make your experience with us as comfortable and effective as possible.

Before Your Visit

Preparing for Your Appointment
Before your visit, we recommend you note any changes in your skin, including new or changing moles, lesions, or rashes. Include your current medications and any previous skin treatments or surgeries. If you have a family history of skin cancer, this information can be helpful, so please inform us.
What to Wear

Wear comfortable clothing and minimal makeup or cosmetics on the day of your skin check. Your skin cancer doctor must examine your skin, making these areas easily accessible.

Your Skin Check

During Your Visit

During your skin check, your skin cancer doctor will comprehensively examine your skin. This examination is painless and non-invasive. Further tests, such as a biopsy, may be performed if any suspicious areas are found.

Confidentiality
At Fremantle Skin Cancer Clinic, we respect your privacy and adhere to strict confidentiality protocols. Your personal and medical information will always be treated with utmost confidentiality.

After Your Visit

Results and Follow-Up Appointments

If any tests were performed during your visit, your skin cancer doctor will inform you when and how you will receive your results. If necessary, a follow-up appointment will be scheduled to discuss these results and any necessary treatment.

Payment and Billing
Payment is due at the time of your visit. We accept cash, cheque, debit, and most major credit cards. If you have health insurance, we will provide all the necessary documentation to submit to your insurer.
Patient Rights and Responsibilities

At Fremantle Skin Cancer Clinic, we value our relationship with you and strive to provide a high standard of care. We encourage you to participate in healthcare decisions and understand your rights and responsibilities as a patient. Please visit our Patient Rights and Responsibilities to learn more about this.

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer occurs when skin cells are damaged, for example, by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

There are three main types of skin cancer:

Both basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are known as non-melanoma skin cancer or keratinocyte cancers. Keratinocyte cancer is more common in men, with almost double the incidence compared to women.

Melanoma is the third most common cancer in Australians excluding keratinocyte cancers as data on incidence is not routinely collected).

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
  • 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.

Learn more about how Cancer Council funded researchers are working on curing Australia’s national cancer.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)

This is the most common but least dangerous form of skin cancer. It grows slowly, usually on the head, neck and upper torso. It may appear as a lump or dry, scaly area. It can be red, pale or pearly in colour. As it grows, it may ulcerate or appear like a sore that does not heal properly. The earlier BCC is detected, the easier it is to treat.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

This type of skin cancer is not as dangerous as melanoma but may spread to other parts of the body if not treated. It grows over some months and appears on skin most often exposed to the sun. It can be a thickened, red, scaly spot that may bleed easily, crust or ulcerate.

Melanoma

Melanoma can grow quickly. The most aggressive forms can become life-threatening in as little as six weeks and if untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body.

Use the ABCDE rule to look for melanoma where:

  • A = asymmetry, look for spots that are asymmetrical not round
  • B = border, look for spots with uneven borders
  • C = colour, look for spots with an unusual or uneven colour
  • D = diameter, look for spots that are larger than 7 mm
  • E = evolution, look for any changes to spots on your skin, and see your doctor as soon as possible if you notice any changes.

The earlier melanoma is found, the more successful treatment is likely to be.

Melanoma is often related to a pattern of irregular high sun exposure, including episodes of sunburn.Superficial spreading melanoma (the most common type of melanoma)

 

 

It is usually flat with an uneven smudgy outline, may be blotchy and more than one colour – brown, black, blue, red or grey.

Nodular melanoma

A highly dangerous form of melanoma that looks different from common melanomas – they are raised from the start and have an even colouring (often red or pink and some are brown or black). This type of melanoma grows very quickly and needs to be treated as soon as possible. They are most common in older people in sun exposed areas such as the face, ears, neck and head.

Other forms of melanoma include lentigo maligna melanoma, acral lentiginous melanoma and desmoplastic melanoma.

Warning signs of sun damaged skin and skin cancer risk

Spots, blemishes, freckles and moles, similar to those pictured above, are signs of sun-damaged skin. They are a warning sign your skin has had UV damage. If you notice them changing, see your doctor. 

The main cause of skin cancer is over exposure to UV radiation. You can reduce your risk by using sun protection during sun protection times.

Skin cancer facts & stats
  • More than two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime.
  • About 2,000 Australians die from skin cancer each year.
  • Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.
  • Medicare records show there were over a million treatments for squamous and basal cell carcinoma skin cancers in 2018 – that’s more than 100 skin cancer treatments every hour.

The good news is that using sun protection will cut your risk of skin cancer at any age, no matter if you are 6, 16 or 60 years old. And most skin cancers can be successfully treated if found early.

How common is skin cancer?

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. About two in three Australians will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer before the age of 70. Non-melanoma skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australia.

Melanoma of the skin statistics

Melanoma skin cancer incorporates ICD-10 cancer code C43 (Malignant neoplasm of skin).

Estimated number of new cases of melanoma of the skin diagnosed in 2022

Estimated % of all new cancer cases diagnosed in 2022

Estimated number of deaths from melanoma of the skin in 2022

Skin cancer signs and symptoms

The sooner a skin cancer is identified and treated, the better your chance of avoiding surgery or, in the case of a serious melanoma or other skin cancer, potential disfigurement or even death.

It is also a good idea to talk to your doctor about your level of risk and for advice on early detection.

Become familiar with the look of your skin, particularly spots and moles, so you pick up any changes that might suggest a skin cancer.
Look for:

  • 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.
Skin cancer identification poster

Download PDF

Causes of skin cancer

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Anyone can be at risk of developing skin cancer, though the risk increases as you get older.

The majority of skin cancers in Australia are caused by exposure to UV radiation in sunlight.

Some factors that increase your risk of skin cancer include:

  • Sunburn
  • Tanning
  • Solariums.
Who is at risk?

Anyone can develop skin cancer but it’s more common as you age.

Many factors can increase your risk of skin cancer, including having:

  • Pale or freckled skin, especially if it burns easily and doesn’t tan
  • Red or fair hair and light-coloured eyes (blue or green)
  • Unprotected exposure to UV radiation, particularly a pattern of short, intense periods of sun exposure and sunburn, such as on weekends and holidays
  • Actively tanned or used solariums
  • Worked outdoors or been exposed to arsenic
  • A weakened immune system – this may be from having leukaemia or lymphoma or using immunosuppressive medicines (e.g. for rheumatoid arthritis, another autoimmune disease or for an organ transplant)
  • Lots of moles, or moles with an irregular shape and uneven colour (dysplastic naevi)
  • A previous skin cancer or a family history of skin cancer
  • Certain skin conditions such as sunspots.

People with olive or very dark skin have more protection against UV radiation because their skin produces more melanin than fair skin does. However, they can still develop skin cancer.

Diagnosis of skin cancer

It is important to check your skin regularly and check with your doctor if you notice any changes.

In the majority of cases, your GP will examine you, paying attention to any spots that may look suspicious. Your GP may perform a biopsy (remove a small sample of tissue for examination under a microscope). In some cases your GP may refer you to a specialist, such as a dermatologist, if necessary.

Biopsy

If you notice any significant changes to your skin, your doctor may examine you. Diagnosis is by biopsy (removal of a small sample of tissue for examination under a microscope)

Treatment for skin cancer

The type of treatment depends on the type and size of the cancer and where it is located.         

Surgical

The main aim of surgical treatment for skin cancer is to remove the lesion with appropriate clinical margin. This clinical margin will depend on the type of skin cancer, site and any additional risk feature identified in the biopsy.

The type of surgery will depend on the type of skin cancer, size and its location on the body. This could include:

  • Simple Excision – usually in shape of ellipse
  • Complex Excision – requiring flaps, graft and other complex surgical procedures

Doctors at our clinic are well experienced in simple and complex procedures including flaps and grafts to provide the best possible outcome for our patients.

Non-surgical

Common non-surgical treatments in Skin Cancer care are:

  • Photodynamic Therapy – not available at our clinic
  • Efudix
  • Aldara
  • Cryotherapy

These options can be used for specific type of lesions only, your doctor will discuss this with you for clinically appropriate lesions.

Follow-up care and wound care

Our experienced nurses will apply appropriate dressing after the surgery and arrange a follow-up appointment for wound review. This might very between 1-5 days depending on the type and complexity of surgery. We will provide you information sheet for your wound care depending on the type of surgery you had.

Protect your skin

For best protection, when the UV level is 3 or above, we recommend a combination of sun protection measures:

  • Slip on some sun-protective clothing – that covers as much skin as possible.
  • Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30 sunscreen. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards. Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun.
  • Slap on a hat – that protects your face, head, neck and ears.
  • Seek shade.
  • Slide on some sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian standards.

Be extra cautious in the middle of the day when UV levels are most intense.

For further information please visit our page on preventing skin cancer.

Download PDF

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer occurs when skin cells are damaged, for example, by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

There are three main types of skin cancer:

Basal and squamous cell carcinomas, or non-melanoma skin cancers, are more prevalent in men. Melanoma ranks as the third most common cancer in Australians, not counting these non-melanoma types. Each year in Australia, skin cancers, largely due to sun exposure, make up about 80% of all new cancer diagnoses. Australia has one of the world’s highest skin cancer rates, two to three times higher than Canada, the US, and the UK.

Learn more about how Cancer Council funded researchers are working on curing Australia’s national cancer.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)

This is the most common but least dangerous form of skin cancer. It grows slowly, usually on the head, neck and upper torso. It may appear as a lump or dry, scaly area. It can be red, pale or pearly in colour. As it grows, it may ulcerate or appear like a sore that does not heal properly. The earlier BCC is detected, the easier it is to treat.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

This type of skin cancer is not as dangerous as melanoma but may spread to other parts of the body if not treated. It grows over some months and appears on skin most often exposed to the sun. It can be a thickened, red, scaly spot that may bleed easily, crust or ulcerate.

Melanoma

Melanoma can grow quickly. The most aggressive forms can become life-threatening in as little as six weeks and if untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body.

Use the ABCDE rule to look for melanoma where:

  • A = asymmetry, look for spots that are asymmetrical not round
  • B = border, look for spots with uneven borders
  • C = colour, look for spots with an unusual or uneven colour
  • D = diameter, look for spots that are larger than 7 mm
  • E = evolution, look for any changes to spots on your skin, and see your doctor as soon as possible if you notice any changes.

The earlier melanoma is found, the more successful treatment is likely to be.

Melanoma is often related to a pattern of irregular high sun exposure, including episodes of sunburn.Superficial spreading melanoma (the most common type of melanoma)

It is usually flat with an uneven smudgy outline, may be blotchy and more than one colour – brown, black, blue, red or grey.

Nodular melanoma

A highly dangerous form of melanoma that looks different from common melanomas – they are raised from the start and have an even colouring (often red or pink and some are brown or black). This type of melanoma grows very quickly and needs to be treated as soon as possible. They are most common in older people in sun exposed areas such as the face, ears, neck and head.

Other forms of melanoma include lentigo maligna melanoma, acral lentiginous melanoma and desmoplastic melanoma.

Warning signs of sun damaged skin and skin cancer risk

Spots, blemishes, freckles and moles, similar to those pictured above, are signs of sun-damaged skin. They are a warning sign your skin has had UV damage. If you notice them changing, see your doctor.  The main cause of skin cancer is over exposure to UV radiation. You can reduce your risk by using sun protection during sun protection times.

Skin cancer facts & stats

  • More than two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime.
  • About 2,000 Australians die from skin cancer each year.
  • Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.
  • Medicare records show there were over a million treatments for squamous and basal cell carcinoma skin cancers in 2018 – that’s more than 100 skin cancer treatments every hour.

The good news is that using sun protection will cut your risk of skin cancer at any age, no matter if you are 6, 16 or 60 years old. And most skin cancers can be successfully treated if found early.

How common is skin cancer?

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. About two in three Australians will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer before the age of 70. Non-melanoma skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australia.

Melanoma of the skin statistics

Melanoma skin cancer incorporates ICD-10 cancer code C43 (Malignant neoplasm of skin).

Estimated number of new cases of melanoma of the skin diagnosed in 2022

17,756

=

Estimated % of all new cancer cases diagnosed in 2022

11%

Estimated number of deaths from melanoma of the skin in 2022

1,281

=

Skin cancer signs and symptoms

The sooner a skin cancer is identified and treated, the better your chance of avoiding surgery or, in the case of a serious melanoma or other skin cancer, potential disfigurement or even death.

It is also a good idea to talk to your doctor about your level of risk and for advice on early detection.

Become familiar with the look of your skin, particularly spots and moles, so you pick up any changes that might suggest a skin cancer.
Look for:

  • 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.

Skin cancer identification poster

Causes of skin cancer

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Anyone can be at risk of developing skin cancer, though the risk increases as you get older.

The majority of skin cancers in Australia are caused by exposure to UV radiation in sunlight.

Some factors that increase your risk of skin cancer include:

  • Sunburn
  • Tanning
  • Solariums.

Who is at risk?

Anyone can develop skin cancer but it’s more common as you age. Many factors can increase your risk of skin cancer, including having:
  • Pale or freckled skin, especially if it burns easily and doesn’t tan
  • Red or fair hair and light-coloured eyes (blue or green)
  • Unprotected exposure to UV radiation, particularly a pattern of short, intense periods of sun exposure and sunburn, such as on weekends and holidays
  • Actively tanned or used solariums
  • Worked outdoors or been exposed to arsenic
  • A weakened immune system – this may be from having leukaemia or lymphoma or using immunosuppressive medicines (e.g. for rheumatoid arthritis, another autoimmune disease or for an organ transplant)
  • Lots of moles, or moles with an irregular shape and uneven colour (dysplastic naevi)
  • A previous skin cancer or a family history of skin cancer
  • Certain skin conditions such as sunspots.
People with olive or very dark skin have more protection against UV radiation because their skin produces more melanin than fair skin does. However, they can still develop skin cancer.

Diagnosis of skin cancer

It is important to check your skin regularly and check with your doctor if you notice any changes.

In the majority of cases, your GP will examine you, paying attention to any spots that may look suspicious. Your GP may perform a biopsy (remove a small sample of tissue for examination under a microscope). In some cases your GP may refer you to a specialist, such as a skin cancer doctor, if necessary.

Biopsy

If you notice any significant changes to your skin, your doctor may examine you. Diagnosis is by biopsy (removal of a small sample of tissue for examination under a microscope)

Treatment for skin cancer

Skin cancers are almost always removed. In more advanced skin cancers, some of the surrounding tissue may also be removed to make sure that all of the cancerous cells have been taken out.

The most common treatment for skin cancer is surgery to remove the cancer (usually under a local anaesthetic). Common skin cancers can be treated with ointments or radiation therapy (radiotherapy). Skin cancer can also be removed with cryotherapy (using liquid nitrogen to rapidly freeze the cancer off), curettage (scraping) or cautery (burning).

For more detailed information about skin cancer please phone Cancer Council 13 11 20 or talk to your GP.

Palliative care

In some cases of skin cancer, your medical team may talk to you about palliative care. Palliative care aims to improve your quality of life by alleviating symptoms of cancer.

As well as slowing the spread of skin cancer, palliative treatment can relieve pain and help manage other symptoms. Treatment may include radiotherapy, chemotherapy or other drug therapies.

Treatment for non-melanoma skin cancer

The type of treatment depends on the type and size of the cancer and where it is located.         

Surgical

 

Non-surgical

 

Others

 

Preventing skin cancer

Protect your skin

For best protection, when the UV level is 3 or above, we recommend a combination of sun protection measures:

  • Slip on some sun-protective clothing – that covers as much skin as possible.
  • Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30 sunscreen. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards. Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun.
  • Slap on a hat – that protects your face, head, neck and ears.
  • Seek shade.
  • Slide on some sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian standards.

Be extra cautious in the middle of the day when UV levels are most intense.

For further information please visit our page on preventing skin cancer.

Sources

  • Understanding Skin Cancer, Cancer Council Australia, © 2020. Last medical review of source booklet: January 2020. 
  • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Australian Cancer Incidence and Mortality (ACIM) books. Canberra: AIHW. 
Contact us

If you have further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to assist and guide you through every step of your skin health journey.

Thank you for choosing Fremantle Skin Cancer Clinic. We look forward to providing you with exceptional care.