SKIN CANCER SCREENING
Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in South Africa with about 20 000 reported cases each year. The number of reported deaths from skin cancer in South Africa is on the rise increasing from 531 cases in 2010 to over 700 cases in 2015 (StatsSA). South Africa has the second highest incidence of skin cancer in the world after Australia as we have one of the highest monitored ultraviolet levels in the world. Skin cancer occurs when the DNA in skin cells becomes damaged and is not able to repair itself anymore. This damage causes the skin cells which are affected to start to grow and divide uncontrollably.
A skin cancer screening is a visual inspection of your entire body for suspicious growths, moles or lesions. A complete head-to-toe examination will be done even taking note of the webspaces of the toes and parting the hair to take a good look at the scalp! Your dermatologist will use a dermatoscope, a hand-held device that enables a deeper look into the skin to aid in the diagnosis of suspicious lesions.
There really is no list of criteria which you need to fulfil in order to qualify for this screening. Along with our beautiful climate comes a good dollop of UV exposure and thus an increased risk of skin pre-malignancies and malignancies. Whether you have had excess sun exposure over time or a few blistering sunburns, this is an annual check which needs to be prioritised. Regular screenings which are completely non-invasive and painless are the best way to catch skin cancer in its earliest stages when it is most treatable. Red flags to visit the practice sooner than scheduled are an irritated flaky patch of skin, a “pimple” which will not heal or which bleeds, a pearly bump laced with tiny blood vessels or a non-healing sore. We encourage pop in visits between scheduled appointments if you notice anything which looks odd or suspicious.