Skin cancer is a major problem in Australia. In fact, melanoma remains the most common cancer affecting 15 to 39 year old Australians. Concerningly, the incidence rates are also rising significantly in the over 60 age groups.
There are two ways we can deal with this: the first is in prevention, and the other is early detection.
You can make a big difference by checking your own skin at home or having someone check it for you. A GP who has experience in skin cancer and skin checks can help detect and treat early signs of skin cancer before it becomes a problem.
We have a dedicated skin cancer GP who has extensive experience and qualifications in skin cancer medicine and surgery.
We can provide:
- full body skin cancer checks for the early detection and management of melanoma and other skin cancers (30 minutes)
- more brief skin cancer spot checks to look at one or two specific skin lesions/moles that you may be concerned about (15 minutes).
Suspicious spots can be monitored using a specialised imaging software system. In other cases, we can also perform the medical procedures to sample or remove moles for examination by a pathologist.
At your appointment you can also discuss how frequently you need to have a skin check.
We’ve also written additional information on topics about skin cancer:
Skin Checks What to Expect
For your first consultation you will be asked about your general health. Previous medical conditions, allergies, medications taken and family history are all relevant to the detection and treatment of skin cancers. You can greatly assist in the early detection. Please tell us about any spot or lump which is new or changing or has any unusual symptoms such as pain, itching or bleeding.
For a full skin check you will be asked to undress behind a curtain, leaving your underwear on. Potentially dangerous skin cancers can occur on parts of the body which are not regularly exposed to the sun. Genital areas are not generally examined unless you request that.
The lymph node regions in the neck, armpits and groin will be examined routinely. Please don’t apply make-up or lipstick because it makes interpretation of facial spots more difficult. You can ask our staff for make-up remover if you need to. It’s also useful if you remove nail polish.
Your skin spots will be examined using a dermatoscope. This is a magnifier with a glass plate which is applied to the skin with a drop of hand sanitiser or alcohol wipe to allow the spot to be clearly seen.
Images are routinely taken of suspicious spots. By enlarging the image a more accurate diagnosis can be made. The images can also be vital for following up suspicious moles to assess for change over time. Typically that follow up interval will be four months. Also baseline images of various body regions may be taken to assist with identifying new spots in the future. We will ask for your consent to images being securely stored, and also ask your consent for teaching and research, in which case they can have identifying features blocked out.
If a suspicious spot is found, it may need to have a sample piece taken from it to determine what treatment it needs (punch or shave biopsy). If the suspicious spot is pigmented, it will generally need to be fully removed to achieve a diagnosis (excision biopsy). These biopsies are performed at the clinic using local anaesthetic. It may be necessary to arrange a separate procedure time for the biopsy.
Skin cancers needing surgical removal can be managed either at the clinic, or by referral to a specialist.
Skin check and excision fees
Skin checks and excisions are carried out by Dr Ian Devlin and are charged as a combination of a consultation fee, part of the cost of consumables (eg dressings) and a nurse appointment fee that reflects the nature of the procedure.
For more information on skin checks, check out our FAQs on skin checks, or call us on 03 9284 3200.
Feel free to contact us if you’d like further explanation regarding any of these fees.
Spot check of 1-3 spots (15 mins)
Full body skin check (30 mins)
Extended skin check (40 mins)1
- If you are a new patient looking to book a skin check with Dr Ian Devlin, please book the 30 minute full body skin check.
Frequently Asked Questions about Skin Checks
Q: Who should have a skin check?
A: Anyone who is concerned about skin cancer should have a skin check. The doctor will discuss your risks with you and determine how frequently you should have a check. Because the risk is much higher in older groups, those over 50 should definitely have an annual check.
Q: How much does a skin check cost?
A: A spot check of 1-3 spots takes 15 minutes and costs $96.75. For a full 30-minute skin check the fee is $165 and for an extended skin check more than 40 minutes the fee is $200.45. The Medicare rebate covers a substantial part of this fee. Concession rates are available for pensioner and Health Care Card holders. Please note that these fees may be updated. Check the patient information page for the latest prices for a skin check.
Q: What if the doctor finds a suspicious spot?
A: Suspicious spots may need to be biopsied. This is done in one of three ways:
- Punch biopsy:After numbing the area with a local anaesthetic injection, a small piece of the skin containing the spot is removed with a sterile “hole punch” and then stitched to stop it bleeding
2. Shave biopsy:After local anaesthetic injection, A thin section of the suspicious spot is shaved off with a blade. It is then covered with a dressing and allowed to heal like a graze.
3. After local anaesthetic injection, the whole spot may need to be cut out and then stitched together, particularly if melanoma is expected.
Q: How will my skin cancer be treated?
A: In many cases, surgical removal (excision) is the best method. This can be done at the clinic under local anaesthetic, or for more complex removals a referral will be made to a specialist. Sometimes cream treatments are used, but only in specific circumstances.
Q: How much does excision cost?
A: The cost of excision depends on:
- The size of the spot to be excised
- The region of the body.
We can give you an estimate of the cost before the procedure. The fee can be upwards of $300, with a substantial rebate from Medicare. Usually, you will be charged sometime later, as often the cost is determined by the result that is reported by the testing laboratory.
Q: How long does the procedure take?
A: This is variable, but commonly between 30 and 45 minutes.
Q: Can I have a skin check and a procedure on the same day?
A: This can be done for smaller procedures, but more often will be booked into a separate procedure session.
Q: Why can I get skin cancer in areas of my body which have not been regularly exposed to the sun?
A: Ultraviolet radiation is responsible for over 90% of skin cancers, but as with most types of cancer there is more than one cause. Another important cause is inherited genes which allow cancer to develop. Also, genes can be damaged by certain environmental chemicals or pollutants which will then allow the cancer to develop.
Q: Why are the lymph nodes important?
A: When melanoma is diagnosed it can be important to know if you have any new lymph node enlargement, or if the same lymph nodes have been enlarged for years.