How family health care clinics take on skin cancer

Posted on: 13 June 2017


Skin cancer is a common medical condition in Australia. According to the Cancer Council Australia, In 2014, 2067 people died of skin cancer in Australia. Majority of skin cancers are caused by damage to skin cells due to overexposure to radiations of the sun, which nature makes generously available in parts of Australia, especially in Queensland. It is therefore important to get any worrying skin spots checked as soon as possible.

Family health care clinics in Australia play an equally important role as the skin cancer clinics in dealing with skin cancer. GPs in Australia are well trained in skin cancer, as it is a common problem, and many now have additional training in the use of a dermatoscope, a piece of equipment that helps in visualising the features of a mole not visible to the naked eye.

Awareness of the appearance of new moles and changes to existing moles is crucial, but a professional skin cancer check every 2 years is recommended. Locating and monitoring the physical characteristics of a mole in any part of the body will ensure that significant changes can be identified and dealt with as quickly as possible.

The family health care practitioner undertakes a full examination of the body to detect appearance of new moles or visualise any changes to existing moles. Skin imaging technology and infra-red scanning devices are deployed to visualise beneath the skin layer and to identify risk elements within the mole.

If skin cancer is suspected, the doctor may remove a small sample of tissue which will be examined under a microscope. Single moles are removed during a minor procedure that can be undertaken at the GP surgery. Patients with multiple moles may be referred to a general hospital or a skin clinic for this procedure.

Skin cancers are almost always removed by a surgeon, and in advanced cases, some of the surrounding tissue is also removed to ensure that all the cancerous cells have been taken out. In some cases, radiation therapy may be used as the only therapy, in combination with chemotherapy or as adjuvant therapy for shrinking the cancer. In other cases, it may be used to reduce cancer symptoms or prolong life if cure is not possible. Other forms of skin cancer treatment include cryotherapy, which involves the use of liquid nitrogen to rapidly freeze off the cancer and cautery to burn off cancer cells.

The family health care practitioner plays an important role in post-operative rehabilitation of the skin cancer patient by providing counselling, further monitoring and the administration of other drug therapies.