Frequently Asked Questions

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What happens during a skin check?

A skin check is a pain free 10-15 minute appointment where a dermatoscope is used to closely look at any spots over the body. If any spots look concerning, the doctor may take a photo and/or take a biopsy of the lesion to be sent away for a pathologist to determine its exact nature.

 

What should I expect during my skin check appointment?

When you arrive for your appointment, please report to reception. A full skin check with involve the doctor examining the whole body, including skin that is not always exposed to the sun, for example soles of feet and palms of hands. As you will need to remove your outer garments for this, we have gowns available to wear during your appointment. Skin cancer or melanoma can occur in areas not exposed to the sun. Please inform your doctor if you have concerns with areas that are not routinely checked in your appointment, such as the genital region.

Please avoid wearing make up or fake tan for your appointment. Please remove all nail polish if you have moles under your nails.

How long does a skin check take?

A skin check is generally a 10-15 minute appointment. It is sometimes unavoidable to spend longer with patients who have complex issues with their skin. Please keep this in mind if your doctor is running late on the day.

How long will my procedure take?

Depending on what you are having done, excisions can take between 30 and 90 minutes.
If you are having PDT, please allow at least 3 hours.

 

How much will a skin check cost me?

The maximum cost of an initial consultation is $130 or $100 with a concession. You will receive a Medicare rebate of $71.70, which we can transmit for you, upon payment.  If you have your bank account details registered with Medicare online then you should receive this rebate 24-48 hours after payment.

 

Do I need a referral for a skin check?

You do not need a referral for an appointment, however if you are concerned and your GP has recommended you need an urgent appointment, we will be more than happy to accommodate this request.

 

Why choose Newcastle Skin Check over another clinic?

The doctors at Newcastle Skin Check are highly qualified in diagnosing, treating and managing all skin cancer and melanoma. All have completed extra training, with our directors completing the Master of Skin Cancer Medicine in 2010 through the University of Queensland. They not only offer support to other Hunter region doctors and nursing staff, also travel nation wide to educate in skin cancer surgery and management.

We have the latest equipment and resources to effectively manage our patients.

Most GPs are confident to perform a skin check. If they are unsure, your lesion is not manageable, or you would like a second opinion, we are more than happy to receive a referral to assist with your treatment.

How do I know if I need a skin check?

Unfortunately, the Australian sun is harsh and we have one of the highest rates of skin cancer. It recommended that everyone over the age of 25 will need regular skin checks. If you have never had a skin check, and over the age of 25 it is never too late to start having regular skin checks.

Your doctor will let you know how often you will need a skin check. Some patients will need a full skin check every 3-6 months, others every 12 months, and those with low risk may be recommended to have a skin check every 2-3 years.

I have a new spot but I am not due for my skin check, what should I do?

If you are noticing new spots appearing or existing spots are changing in colour, shape or size, then please ring for an appointment to arrange a consultation.

What happens if something suspicious is found during my skin check?

During your consultation, if there is a suspicious lesion the doctor may take a photo and/or biopsy the lesion to have a pathologist provide a diagnosis. In some instances, treatment can be provided without a biopsy. Your pathology result may take a few days to return to us with a diagnosis. Please allow approximately 7-10 days for reception to have instruction as to what treatment you need.

How often do I need a skin check?

Your doctor will let you know how often you will need a skin check. Some patients will need a full skin check every 3-6 months, others every 12 months, and those with low risk may be recommended to have a skin check every 2-3 years. Factors affecting how often you need a skin check may include your personal or family history of skin cancer or melanoma, skin type, age, gender or occupation.

Can I choose which doctor I see? Is there a female doctor available?

When you request an appointment, please specify if you would like to see a specific doctor, including if you would like to see a female doctor.

I need further treatment to a lesion, can I choose where I have my procedure done?

Your doctor will offer all available options for your treatment. Not all skin cancers require surgery, so make sure you are well informed before making a final decision. If you need an excision and do not have private health insurance, we have an on site theatre in our Charlestown and Toronto clinics. If you have private health insurance, or are prepared to pay hospital fees we operate at Charlestown Private and Lingard Private Hospitals. This will enable you to have day surgery or overnight care if required.

I have private health insurance, do I have to pay to go to a private hospital for my procedure?

The only out of pocket expense you will have would be an excess with your health insurance policy. If you do not have to pay an excess to be admitted to a hospital then you will have no out of pocket expense for the surgeon or anaesthetist.

Our receptionist will happily provide you with estimated item numbers to ensure your upcoming procedure is covered by your health insurance policy.

How can I check my skin between appointments?

Don’t forget behind ears, scalp, between fingers and toes. Ask a friend or partner to check your back. Taking photos can help you compare.
Spots to watch out for can be dark or pink. With dark spots, remember the ABCDE? With pink spots remember that any crusty, pink, ulcerated lesion that grows or bleeds over a few months may be a concern and should be checked.

A is for ASYMMETRY:
One-half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.

B is for BORDER irregularity:
The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
Mole border irregularity example2
C is for COLOUR variation:
The colour is not the same all over, but may have differing shades of brown or black, sometimes with patches of red, white, or blue.
Mole colour variation example
D is for DIAMETER:
The area is larger than 6 mm (about the size of a pencil eraser) or is growing larger.
Mole diameter example
E is for EVOLVING:
Changes in size, shape, colour, elevation, or another trait (such as itching, bleeding or crusting). This is likely the strongest of all of the warning signs.
Evolving Mole Example

I have noticed a new spot that seems to be changing in colour or shape, should I come in for the doctor to look at it?

Definitely book an appointment to have it assessed by the doctor. Even if you are not yet due for your next skin check, an appointment would be the safest option. Early detection and subsequent treatment may save your life.

My children have some moles, do they need to have a skin check?

Most children won’t need a skin check. Skin cancer or melanoma is rare in children, however it is not unheard of. If you are concerned with something, or have a family history of skin cancer or melanoma we are happy to check your child’s skin. If they are 15 and under there will be no out of pocket expense.

I am pregnant and my moles are changing. Is this normal?

During and after pregnancy (including the breastfeeding phase), hormones produced may affect the pigment in the skin, and subsequently the pigment in existing moles. Having a skin cancer check before your pregnancy helps to provide a baseline for comparison of moles during and after your pregnancy.

Having a skin check during this period would be advisable if there are any moles that are concerning or seem to be changing.

How often should I apply sunscreen?

If you are actively outdoors it is important to reapply sunscreen every three to four hours. If you are in and out of the water, ensure you are wearing water resistant sunscreen and reapply straight after you have been in the water (even if it is within the time frame it specifies to reapply).

If I have dark skin do I still need to apply sunscreen?

Absolutely. No matter what your skin colour or skin type is, UV rays will not discriminate. Always protect your skin with sunscreen, shade or clothing.

How do I know if my sunscreen is suitable for Australian sun?

Choosing a sunscreen with SPF 30+ or higher is the best option. When swimming or excessive sweating, ensure you have a water resistant sunscreen. To protect against skin cancer and the ageing effects of the sun, ensure your sunscreen is also broad spectrum. This means it will protect against UVA and UVB rays (two forms of UV rays from the sun that are damaging to our skin).

If you aren’t sure feel free to come in with your sunscreen or email a photo for our staff to help you. 

Does sunscreen expire?

Sunscreen definitely expires. Not only does it have a use by date, it is also sensitive to extreme temperatures. As convenient as it may seem to leave a bottle of sunscreen in the car, it will spoil so make sure you keep it in temperatures specified on the label.

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