Get to know your skin - it could save your life

CANCER Council is urging Queenslanders to get to know their own skin and stay vigilant about early detection, with reports of misdiagnosis for some types of melanoma in the Australasian Journal of Dermatology.

The research focused on some of the less common subtypes of melanoma, such as nodular melanoma - which accounts for about 8 per cent of all melanomas diagnosed in Queensland each year.

The five-year relative survival rate for Queenslanders diagnosed with nodular melanoma is 79 per cent.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said it was crucial that Queenslanders practiced best sun protection when outdoors, and got to know their own skin.

"Early detection is vital in improving survival rates," Ms Clift said.

"It is imperative that Queenslanders get to know their own skin - if you notice a new spot or lesion, or a spot or lesion change in shape, colour or size - visit your GP immediately.

"Queenslanders should also get in the habit of asking a partner or a mate to check their back, and anywhere they can't see themselves, for any skin changes."

Queensland has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.

Around 3000 melanoma and 133,000 non-melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed across the state each year.

Some changes to look for in the skin include:

  • New moles;
  • Moles that increases in size;
  • An outline of a mole that becomes notched;
  • A spot that changes colour from brown to black or is varied;
  • A spot that becomes raised or develops a lump within it;
  • The surface of a mole becoming rough, scaly or ulcerated;
  • Moles that itch or tingle;
  • Moles that bleed or weep; or
  • Spots that look different from the others.

"Although Queenslanders may notice some of these changes, it does not necessarily mean they have skin cancer, however it is important all Queenslanders see a health professional to have any changes investigated further," Ms Clift said.

"We recommend Queenslanders contact their GP for a skin check, and if they require a second opinion, to obtain a referral to a dermatologist."

Cancer Council Queensland provides free resources about skin checks at, via the 'Early Detection' tab.

More than 40,000 Queenslanders are alive today after a melanoma diagnosis. The five-year relative survival rate is nearly 93 per cent.

Cancer Council recommends all Queenslanders abide by all five recommended sun protective behaviours - Slip on protective clothing, Slop on minimum SPF30 broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, Slap on a broad-brimmed hat, Seek shade and Slide on wrap-around sunnies when out and about.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at or Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20.

Topics:  cancer council queensland skin cancer

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