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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Who is at risk for getting skin cancer?

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  • 2


    Prof Rodney Sinclair

    Dermatologist (Skin Specialist)

    Professor Sinclair is a Professor of Dermatology at the University of Melbourne and Director of Sinclair Dermatology. He is past-president of the Australasian Society for … View Profile

    The people with the greatest risk of developing skin cancer are fair skinned, blue eyed, red or blond haired people who live in a sunny climate, have had a lot of sun exposre.  Other indicators are lots of freckles, lots of moles and a tendency to burn in the sun rarther than tan.
    In general skin cancers develop when susceptible individuals are exposed to too much UV.  Of you are very susceptible to sun burn you should start getting skin checks from the age of 40.  If you are less susceptible you can wait until you are older before you start.

    If you are unsure, see your doctor for an initial assessment and advice as to how often you need a skin check.

    Specialist skin checks are available through Epworth Dermatology in Richmond.  Phone 03 9654 24 26 for an appointment.

    Professor Rod SInclair
    Epworth Dermatology

  • 1


    Dr John Mahony

    Cosmetic Physician

    Dr John Mahony studied Medicine at Sydney University 1980-1984 graduating early 1985. Internship and residency years followed in the Illawarra, covering general medical and surgical … View Profile

    Skin cancer only occurs in people who have skin.


    can occur in *anyone*.


    Melanoma is around 20 times more common in white folk than in African folk, but obviously that means it *can* still occur in dark people and everyone in between.

    It's more common in older people than younger people, but it *can* occur in younger people, and if young people aren't aware of this, they may not recognise a melanoma early enough to get it out quickly.

    Even children can get melanoma (albeit rarely, thankfully).

    See my photo? Fair skin, green eyes. I had a melanoma at 38, and I am not a wizened surfer.

    But I *did* cop a few big sunburns, to the point of blistering, most years during my childhood. It was the 60s and early 70s - my parents didn't know any better. And it turns out that episodic severe sunburn in childhood is a bigger factor in causing melanoma than total sun exposure per se. (Total sun exposure relates more to NMSC or “non-melanoma-skin-cancer”).

    Another myth about melanoma is that is tends to occur on the backs of men and the backs-of-legs in women: but the reality is that, whilst the back is the commonest site in both genders, melanomas *can and do* occur *anywhere*, (doctors: see p 917 of the 6th edition of the big Fitzpatrick's textbook, or page 305 of the 5th edition of Fitzpatrick's colour atlas and synopsis. A study of 731 melanomas and their distribution.)

    Legs, arms, chest, belly, hands, feet, face: all common sites for melanoma.


    So: who is at risk?

    *You* are!

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