What to Expect
What to expect when attending a clinic
Standard procedure for an appointment with Australian Skin Cancer Clinics:
- Upon arrival please report to receptionist
- Ensure your contact details are up to date
- Have your Medicare, Pension, Healthcare or Veteran Affairs cards handy
- When the Doctor calls you into the consultation room, he/she will ask you some questions regarding family history, previous excision, occupation, level of sun exposure and frequency of sun protection.
- Your Doctor will ask you if you have any spots you are concerned about.
- Your Doctor will ask you to undress to your underwear
- Your Doctor will begin a systematic approach using a dermatoscope to cover all parts with particular attention to sun exposed areas
- Remember to tell your doctor about any lesions of concern in areas that may be hard to see, such as your scalp or those concealed by underwear
- Your Doctor may lightly palpate each lesion for additional clues
- Your Doctor will check your liver and lymph nodes (neck, armpits, groin) if following up from a previous melanoma.
- Please inform your Doctor if you are on blood thinners or Aspirin.
The importance of regular skin checks:
Regular checks give you a good chance of spotting the signs of sun damage before they become serious.
Regular checks will help you get to know your own skin and gain a greater understanding of what is normal on your skin and what is not, which will help you in identifying any new or changing areas of your skin.
Extremely important for those with a higher risk of getting skin cancer (people with reduced immunity, people who have had skin cancer before, and people with a strong family history of skin cancer) to be checked regularly to avoid any cancerous spots
Cancer can appear on parts of the body which are not exposed to the sun, so checking these regularly is also very important
Procedures of our clinic vary from minor treatment or procedures to more complicated excision including Flap Graft Repairs.
Some procedures can be done at the time of your skin check.
These include Cryotheraphy (freezing of sunspots and some cancers).
A shave biopsy may also be performed during some skin checks. This involves talking a thin layer of skin that may be of cancers or of interest under local anesthetic.
More involved biopsies or excision will take more time and planning and will be booked during one of our procedure days.
These include simple excision as well or graft repair of wounds.
We usually do these under local anesthetics but may use nerve blocks if required.
Your wound will be closed using nylon sutures which will need to be removed at the surgery in 7-14 days, depending on the area of the body.
Our staff will ask if you are on blood thinners but please inform us if you are on any form of blood thinners.
We may need to stop certain blood thinners for some procedures and you will be advised of this.
Your GP may be involved in this decision.
Pacemakers / Defibrillators
You will be asked but should also inform us if you have a pacemaker.
Some of our equipment may interfere with pacemakers.
Non Surgical Treatments
Some skin cancers may not require surgical treatments.
If appropriate, Cryotherapy (freeze treatment) or anti-cancer creams may be prescribed.
These treatments will also require monitoring and follow up.
Most of the costs of procedures will attract a Medicare rebate. There will be a gap payment depending on the procedure and pathology diagnosis.
We charge a facility fee to cover the costs of equipment and instruments used during your procedure.
Feel free to discuss the above with our staff.
Post Operative Information
It is common to feel mild discomfort or pain following your procedure, this usually settles within 48 hours and is best relieved by an oral analgesia such as paracetamol. Please do not take any form of aspirin, nurofen or anti-inflammatories. Expect to have slight bleeding/ oozing from the wound for up to 24 hours following your surgery. It is advisable to rest, do not undertake strenuous physical activity for the first 24 hours. If possible, it is beneficial to elevate the affected area. Avoid bending down if the excision has been to the neck/ head region. If your surgery involved the lip or the mouth, take extra care when eating hot foods or drinks while the area is still numb.
Taking Care of your Wound
The dressing we put on is only water-resistant, not water proof. Keep your dressing clean and dry and in place for at least 24 hours. If you feel your dressing is wet underneath or you can see blood on the outside of the dressing, change it. We use op-site dressings, you will find them at the chemist, or any breathable dressing will do. Do not use any anti-septics on the wound. If you have a steri-strip dressing (looks like a piece of tape) under the outer dressing, leave this on if possible, the nurse will remove the steri-strips for you at the follow-up appointment.
Please note when you have your stitches removed, there will be a medicare refundable fee payable on the day, resulting from your procedure ranging between (approximately) $95 – $700 that we will lodge with Medicare. You will receive most of this back.
Please contact us if you are unable to stop any bleeding from the wound after applying direct firm pressure whilst at rest to the area for 15 minutes. Or if you have increasing pain, warmth to the area, swelling or redness at your wound site.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do I need a referral?
No, you do not need a referral. However, if your GP has referred you to us, they will give you a letter to bring to your appointment.
How long does a skin check take?
A skin check can take between 10 and 20 minutes, depending on your skin type and the number of moles you have. Make sure you tell the doctor about any spots or moles which are sore, changing, abnormal or new. Sometimes a biopsy is taken during your skin check.
What do I wear?
It is important to wear loose, comfortable clothing and slip-on shoes (not lace-up shoes). This helps to reduce the time you spend getting undressed so that you have more time with the doctor.
How is the skin check performed?
The doctor will ask you to undress down to your underwear. The doctor will use a dermatoscope to visually inspect your whole body. A dermatoscope is a special skin microscope which allows the doctor to look through your skin. The procedure is completely painless. If you have an area of concern beneath your underwear, please let the doctor know.
Will I be bulk billed?
We are private billing facilities and we appreciate full payment on the day of consultation. We are dedicated to providing the best standard of patient care without compromise. Our highly qualified doctors will address your skin health needs promptly and efficiently, and our specially trained support staff will minimise waiting times and ensure your experience is as pleasant as possible.
Some procedures will attract a medicare rebate and there are private fees which cover the costs of instruments required.
What happens if the doctor finds a suspicious spot?
The doctor will tell you if you have any moles or spots which require a biopsy, which means that a small sample of skin is removed for further testing. Sometimes a biopsy can be taken on the same day as your skin check. After it has been removed, the sample is sent to a pathology laboratory for diagnosis. Receiving the test results can take up to several days. The results and treatment options will be discussed with you at length at your follow-up appointment.
What happens if I have a skin cancer?
In most cases, when found early, skin cancer are successfully treated with surgery. Most skin cancers are cured once they are removed. Other non-surgical treatments may be used but this will depend on the type of skin cancer found.
How often should I get a skin check?
Depending on your level of risk for developing skin cancer, your doctor may recommend regular follow-up skin checks. The frequency for follow-up skin checks can vary from every few months, to once every year or two. We will send you regular skin check reminders, but it is also a good idea to come in sooner than recommended if you notice any new or changing moles.
Are the doctors GPs or specialists?
Our doctors are general practitioners with special qualifications in skin cancer medicine. All have completed university-certified skin cancer training and have many years’ experience in the detection and surgical removal of skin cancers.
Bega Valley Skin Cancer & Cosmetic Clinic
Suite 7, 93 Main Street,
Merimbula Nsw 2548
MONDAY - FRIDAY: 9AM -5PM
CLOSED ON PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
SUITE 7, 93 MAIN STREET,
MERIMBULA NSW 2548