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Skin anatomy

Anatomy of the skin

Anatomy of the skinHuman skin is considered to be the largest organ of the body. The surface area of the skin on an average adult is 1.8 m2, and represents 16% of the total body weight. The thickness of the skin varies throughout the body.

For more information, see Anatomy of the Skin

Skin colour and melanin pigmentation

multicultural-group-peopleA person’s skin colour is based on the amount of a pigment called melanin contained in their skin. People inherit their skin colour from their parents, however the amount of sun exposure they get also influences the amount of melanin their skin produces and their skin colour. Which skin type are you?

For more information, see Skin Colour.


Staging for melanoma

patient-skin-checkMelanoma staging is a system for classifying skin cancers according to their severity and is based on the size of the tumour and the extent to which is has spread. This information helps doctors determine the best way to treat skin cancer.

For more information, see Melanoma Staging.

Malignant skin melanoma

Malignant skin melanomaMelanomas are cancers of cells known as ‘melanocytes’ that are present in the skin. Sometimes, however, something can go wrong in a melanocyte. It becomes cancerous and grows very quickly, becoming bigger and bigger. The cancerous cells can eventually spread to other parts of the body where they can keep growing, causing damage to the surrounding structures.

For more information, see Malignant Skin Melanoma.

Video: Treatment for melanoma

Dr Andrew DeanMelanoma skin cancer is often treated by surgically removing the tumour, however when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body immune-boosting medications are often also needed. In this video, Dr Andrew Dean discuss treatment options for malignant melanoma.

Watch the video Treatment for melanoma.

Prevention and treatment of skin cancer

Video: Melanoma prevention and skin checks

Dr Andrew DeanMelanoma can be prevented by avoiding skin exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Skin checks for suspicious moles can be performed to ensure melanoma is identified early. This prevents the cancer spreading to other parts of the body. Find out more about preventing melanoma and checking skin in this video with Dr Andrew Dean.

Watch the video Melanoma prevention and skin checks.

Skin Checks and Skin Clinics

Skin examinationRegular skin checks play an important role in the early identification of skin cancer. They can be performed by yourself (self-examination) or by a Doctor. How often this occurs depends on your risk of developing skin cancer. Find out more about information on what is involved in a skin check and how to find the right skin clinic for you.

For more information, see Skin Checks and Skin Clinics.

Identifying a suspicious mole

MoleSkin changes like new moles may be a sign of skin cancer and need to be checked by a doctor. Getting to the doctor early, before cancer has time to spread is important to ensure the best treatment outcomes. Find out more about identifying suspicious moles and when to visit the doctor.

For more information, see Identifying a suspicious mole.

Skin biopsy

Skin biopsySkin biopsy is a simple procedure which a general practitioner may perform to diagnose melanoma. A sample of skin is removed and sent to a laboratory for testing.

For more information, see Skin Biopsy.

Preventing Skin Cancer

male_doctor_mole_checking_skin_cancer_male_patient_100x100When it comes to preventing sun cancer it’s important to slip, slop and slap. But in a sunburnt country like Australia there’s a bit more too it. Find out all about how to enjoy the Australian sun without increasing your risk of skin cancer.

For more information, see Preventing Skin Cancer.

Immunotherapy for Cutaneous Melanoma

Immunotherapies stimulate the immune system to fight cancer cells. Several are used in the treatment of cutaneous melanoma.

Find out about Immunotherapies for Cutaneous Melanoma.

Melanoma and Mental Health

Mental Health effects of Melanoma

Ill with cancer girlBeing diagnosed with melanoma can be shocking and scary. Treatment may cause relationship and body changes and pain and involve practical and financial challenges which affect mental health.

Read more about the Mental Health effects of Melanoma.

Managing mental health in melanoma

psychologist_patient_woman_psychotherapy_psychology_mental_health_100x100After being diagnosed with melanoma mental health problems like depression and anxiety are common. There are many effective ways to manage emotional difficulties during diagnosis and treatment, as well as in for melanoma survivors and those in palliative care.

Read more about Managing Mental Health in Melanoma.

Patient experience

My experience: Larry gives us the skinny on skin cancer

Melanoma: Larry gives us the skinny on skin cancerLife is hectic and checking for melanoma might not be top of your priorities at the moment, but after reading Larry’s story, you might want to get your partner, a mate or a Mum to check out your birthday suit.

For more information see Melanoma: Larry gives us the skinny on skin cancer.

Useful resources

Reputable melanoma information resources

laptop-keyboardEvidence based information about melanoma is produced by Australian Cancer Councils and other organisations.

View reputable melanoma information brochures and resources.

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Posted On: 13 November, 2014
Modified On: 11 October, 2016


Created by: myVMC