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Skin Cancer Care at Medplus

Nov. 3, 2017

Skin Cancer Care at Medplus

The rates of skin cancer in New Zealand are dramatically higher than other countries, because of the nature of our sun light. Whilst GPs in Europe rarely see skin cancers, they are seen routinely in general practice here. At Medplus we have four GPs who have advanced training and skills in managing skin cancers, so as summer approaches make sure your skin is checked out from top to toe.

Regular Skin Checks

We highly recommend regular skin checks to screen for skin cancers for adults. The frequency of checks and the age you start will depend very much on your skin type, your sun exposure and your family history of skin cancers. If you are fair skinned, or if you have a family history of skin cancers you many need to start having skin checks in your twenties. Normally this would be repeated annually, although those with suspicious skin changes may need to be seen more frequently. A thorough skin check involves an inspection of your skin from head to toe, including your scalp. This can be a lengthy process, especially if you have lots of freckles and moles that all need to be individually inspected with a dermascope. If you have some suspicious areas they may need to be photographed so that further changes can be tracked. Whilst we used to refer our patients to dermatologists for skin checks we now have the expertise within our practice to detect and manage skin cancers. So, for the price of a standard GP consultation you can have a skilled skin assessment with one of our GP Skin Cancer Specialists. Please make sure that you allow a full consultation for this, it does take the full 15 minutes of a consultation.

What is Dermoscopy?

Whilst the naked eye used to be used to assess suspicious skin changes, we now rely on dermoscopy. Our GPs use a dermascope to magnify lesions and polarise light, giving a non-invasive way to view the colours and microstructures deep in the skin. The patterns of colours and structures assist in evaluating skin changes and determining if they are concerning or not. If a skin lesion appears suspicious it will need to be surgically biopsied or removed, and then a pathologist can clarify the diagnosis by looking at the tissue under the microscope.

Our Skin Cancer Specialists

The hospital system is unable to cope with demand for skin cancer services, and there is a lengthy wait to get into our preferred dermatology doctors locally. Given this needs gap, some of our team have developed a special interest in skin cancer and have undertaken post graduate studies to enable them to provide the services our community requires. The rest of our team have all got a dermascope and have had training on dermoscopy at some level.

Dr Jean Lim has a Certificate in Dermoscopy and Skin Cancer Surgery in Primary Care.

Dr Chen Luo has a Certificate in Primary Care Skin Medicine and Certificate in Primary Skin Care Surgery and is just about to start his Masters in Skin Cancer Medicine.

Dr Tom Herd has a Certificate in Skin Cancer Medicine and just achieved a distinction in his Advanced Clinical Certificate of Dermoscopy. He is also an accredited skin cancer doctor with the Skin Cancer College of Australasia.

Dr Martin Hadler, who prior to becoming a GP underwent surgical training, is also very experienced in dermoscopy and skin cancer surgery.

Waitemata District Health Board sub contracts out approximately twenty skin cancer surgeries to Dr Martin Hadler and Dr Chen Luo each month. This means many cases referred by other GPs to the hospital for skin cancers end up having their treatment here at Medplus. Dr Jean Lim was our first GP involved in this scheme, but now she has a full patient list she has no time to be able to continue. Dr Tom Herd is hoping to become one of the contracted GPs in the near future. As part of this contract the GPs involved get additional specialist training and support, further enhancing their capability in skin cancer management.

Remember, be Sun Smart (slip, slop, slap) and book your skin cancer check today, either on the portal or via reception on 4892011.