Skin cancer occurs when skin cells are damaged, for example, by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.

Between 95 and 99% of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun.

How often should you check?

Dermatologists advise to check your own skin once a month if you have been identified as being high risk, or otherwise once every three to six months.

A professional check is recommended every 12 months. Often there are no symptoms of melanoma; people don’t feel unwell, the lesions or moles are not painful even when they’re growing. Once a melanoma gets to the point of bleeding, it’s far too late

How to check yourself for skin cancer

  • Stand in front of a full-length mirror in a well lit room
  • Start at the top and work your way down your body
  • Begin by using a brush or hairdryer to part your hair into sections so that you can check your scalp
  • Move to your face and neck, not forgetting your ears, nostrils and lips
  • Be sure to check both the top and underneath of your arms; don’t forget your fingernails
  • As you move down your body, don’t forget to check places where the sun doesn’t shine! Melanoma can be found in places that do not have exposed skin.
  • The best way to monitor changes on your skin is by taking photographs every few months and comparing them to identify any changes. React quickly if you see something growing and/or changing.


Check out the Cancer Council for more tips on what to look out for.


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