Skin Cancer Prevention With Dr Sally Phillips

 72% of South Australians have not received a professional skin check in the last year and with temperatures soaring, it’s important to make sure you take care of your skin. Due to this, TAL ran a free pop-up skin check clinic at Henley Beach over the weekend. If you didn’t make it, don’t worry – we had a chat to TAL’s Dr. Sally Phillips on how to prevent skin cancer and enjoy the warm weather safely this Summer!

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43% of South Australians have never had a professional skin check.

Only 46% of South Australians value the importance of receiving regular skin checks.

22% of skin checks carried out by TAL resulted in further tests being required.

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Interview with Dr. Sally Phillips

What should you look for when self-checking your spots? Is it normal for moles to change colour and not be cancerous?

Its really important to get to know what your moles look like on your body. This is the baseline, to check and know what they look like. You will then you need to see if anything is changing colour, shape or size. if any are starting to grow or if your moles are appearing scaly, bumpy or different in any way, you should get checked by a skin doctor or a GP.  

Aside from spot-checking are there any other obvious detection signs for skin cancer? 

It’s really important to get checked particularly if you have spent a lot of time in the sun or if you have fairer skin, freckly skin or a lot of moles. Sometimes you can think it’s normal but you need to check, especially if you have family history of melanoma. The message we are trying to get out with spot-checker is the importance to have an early check. We do a lot around skin cancer prevention e.g. slip, slop, slap, seek & slide. Australians are aware of this but we found in a survey that not all Australians are going for skin checks. We also found that in various states up to 50-70% of people haven’t had a skin check in the last year. By having a professional skin check, that 15 minutes can really save your life. We know that if you can detect melanoma at an early stage there’s almost a 100% survival rate but if it spreads into your body, this percentage drops down to 54%.

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For those who love to sunbath, what’s the safest way to do so? Are tanning oils with SPF still dangerous? 

We need to follow the guidelines. Make sure you wear loose clothing, try and get under trees for shade, avoid UVA and UVB rays during the heat of the day (between 10am-2pm). Get the highest SPF that you can and make sure you apply on a regular basis. Make sure you have sunglasses.

In regards to tanning oils, you have to make sure the SPF is covering both UVA and UVB. Look at the product guidelines for how often you should apply it.

I don’t often go out in the sun, is it still important to get a check-up every year?

 We live in Australia, we know that our melanoma rate doubled between 1986 and 2006 and one of the mains reasons for this is due to the hole in our ozone layer. Even a little bit of time in the sun exposes us to more UVA and UVB rays, so it’s important to get checked.

We want to encourage Australians to embrace sun safety and commit to getting a check up on a yearly bases.

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It’s crucial to stay sun-smart, particularly when you live in Australia.
Make sure to check your spots for anything unusual and get a check-up at your local GP once a year.