Ian Holten is no stranger to skin cancer. The dedicated doctor checks and treats hundreds of skin cancer cases each year. With the prevalence of skin cancer in Australia on the rise, the Geelong plastic surgeon says training General Practitioners to identify skin cancer types on patients could be vital to reducing overwhelming numbers.
Dr Holten has trained numerous General Practitioners around Australia and in developing countries in skin cancer identification and process.
According to the Cancer Council, an estimated 145,000 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Australia this year, with that number set to rise to 150,000 by 2020. In addition to this, 1 in 2 Australian men and women will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85. Melanoma is in the top 5 cancers accounting for around 60% of all cancers diagnosed in Australia.
Self-inspection is also incredibly important says Dr Holten.
"It is more crucial now than ever that we inspect our bodies, and if we do find an abnormality on our skin, we should seek advice with a qualified Skin Cancer Specialist or your GP trained in skin cancer identification as soon as possible."
"If you have a suspicious spot. Please, get it checked immediately. It could save your life" says Holten.
"Have a full-body skin check every year so anything nasty can be detected early. A skin check is easy and straightforward and takes 20 minutes. It is just one of those things you need to do. No referral is necessary for a skin cancer check with an experienced GP.
The forms of skin cancer are Basal Cell Carcinoma, the most common but least dangerous form of skin cancer. BCC's as they are referred to tend to grow slowly over time and if left untreated can invade local tissue and become problematic over time. They vary in appearance and presentation – they may be small raised lesions, red or pearly in colour or even as a dry, scaly or reddened area that may even ulcerate or fail to resolve.
Squamous cell carcinoma is less common. However, this cancer may still spread to other parts of the body if left untreated. It varies in appearance, can present as a red, scaly area that may bleed easily, crust or ulcerate, or as a hardened core lesion. It can grow quite quickly and usually appears on areas of the skin most exposed to the sun.
Melanoma - The most dangerous skin cancer. These can present in many different ways and sometimes as a new lesion or in an existing one. Common characteristics of lesions are an irregularity in shape or colour; they are usually asymmetrical and look different to other lesions you may have on you. They may be slow or fast-growing. Melanoma is more prevalent in fair-skinned people.
Dr Holten urges GP's to get updated with training and understanding of how to identify skin cancers early and help establish a pro-active rather than a reactive approach with skin cancer.
Dr Holten's Australia Skin Face and Body clinics are located in Geelong, Horsham, Warrnambool and Ballarat.
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