Avoiding a delay in diagnosis of melanoma

Avoiding a delay in diagnosis of melanoma

At least one out of every two Australians will require treatment for a type of skin cancer in their lifetime.  Found early, skin cancer can be successfully treated.

Melanoma disease is the fourth most common type of cancer and is often caused by UV sun exposure. It is a malignant tumour of the melanocytes which are cells that produce the dark pigment, melanin, in our skin. Melanoma disease can take many years to develop after sun exposure, sometimes up to 40 years.

The Cancer Council recommends becoming familiar with your skin through regular self screening (including skin not normally exposed to the sun), looking for changes in shape, colour or size, or a new spot and seeking assistance from others to check difficult to see areas.

Who is at high risk of developing melanoma?

The Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Melanoma in Australia and New Zealand (2008) guidelines recommend that high risk individuals or their partners/carers be taught to self screen and may benefit from regular clinical surveillance which can be aided by total body photography, dermoscopy and short-term digital monitoring. Risk factors for developing melanoma include:

  • increasing age
  • previous melanoma or other skin cancer
  • multiple naevi or multiple dysplastic atypical naevi
  • fair skin and hair, blue/green eyes, heavily freckled skin and skin that burns easily
  • family history of melanoma

Examining for melanoma

Examining for melanoma detection requires examination of the whole skin surface under good lighting. Dermoscopy can provide increased accuracy. Features of melanoma have been summarised by the ABCDE acronym:

  • Asymmetry
  • Border irregularity
  • Colour variation
  • Diameter that is large (usually greater than 6mm)
  • Evolving (size, shape, symptoms, surface or colour changes)

If your work has caused or contributed to you developing melanoma disease or skin cancer, it is important that you get the right advice. For independent, clear and practical guidance about how you can access compensation, call our experienced workers compensation lawyers on (03) 9321 9988.

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