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Skin checks

Worried About Skin Cancer? Checks Without The Upfront Cost

New Zealand’s skin cancer rates are the highest in the world – with the rate of melanomas developing being four times greater than countries like the UK, Canada and the US. Approximately 82,000 new skin cancers are diagnosed every year here, with 90% of these resulting from excess UV exposure – meaning time out in the sun unprotected.

The good news is that when melanomas are detected early, they can often be successfully treated, with the outcome being classed as ’excellent’ if the mole is less than 1mm thick when discovered. Here’s a look into which signs you should be looking out for when it comes to your moles and how you can get your annual skin check on time every year without worrying about the upfront cost.

Skin Cancer Signs To Look For At Home

If you’re thinking that monitoring your skin spots won’t be helpful, keep in mind that most melanomas are first detected by either the person checking, their partner, or their family member. It’s a good idea to take photos of your moles regularly, ideally monthly, particularly checking in on those that you’re concerned about. Have a family member help get the photograph if it’s in a difficult-to-reach place. Next, look out for the ABCDEFG signs:

  • An asymmetrical shape – where the border on one half of the spot has a different shape to the other
  • Border irregularity – this means the edges around the spot aren’t regular, and instead may be blurred, notched, uneven or generally poorly defined
  • Colour – you see multiple colours in the spot, including multiple shades of black, brown, tan – as well as areas of white, grey, red, pink or blue
  • Different – your spot catches your eye, looks different to others, or you have a gut feeling that something feels off
  • Evolving – you notice that over time, the mole is changing in any way – shape, colour, thickness, pain/discomfort
  • Firm – the spot becomes harder and firmer to touch
  • Growing – your spot is growing and is bigger than 6mm

Do You Need To Check Your Entire Body?

Absolutely, your entire body should be checked, even if it’s not regularly exposed to the sun. This means you’ll need help from someone else to help you check your back, scalp, the back of your neck, the bottom of your foot if you can’t see it, and any other places you can’t reach. When checking, make note of any new spots or anything unusual, like itching or bleeding around a spot. 

Who Is At Risk Of Skin Cancer? The Bob Marley Lesson

No one is immune to skin cancer, but your risk may be higher if:

  • You have paler skin
  • Your skin burns or freckles easily
  • You have blonde or red hair
  • You have blue or green eyes
  • You already have a large number of moles and skin spots
  • You have a family history of skin cancer
  • You’ve had skin cancer previously
  • You’re older
  • You’ve had five or more sunburns, which doubles your melanoma risk
  • You’ve used indoor tanning stations like sunbeds

Bob Marley is a famous and important example of the dangers and discreteness of skin cancer. The no woman, no cry singer died from a melanoma that was present beneath the nail of his toe. From the toe, it spread throughout his body, and ultimately led to his death a few short years later. The lesson here is that anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of the colour of your skin, and the results can be devastating.

Skin Screening Options

While you should be seeing your GP or dermatologist if you notice anything out of the ordinary when performing your personal skin checks at home, it is also a good idea to have an annual professional skin check your body using dermoscopy, meaning using a hand-held magnifying device, or total body photography. For this, you may choose to see:

  • Your doctor – who can offer regular surveillance for those that may be at high risk of melanomas, and can refer to specialists as needed 
  • A dermatologist – a dermatologist is a medical expert of the skin, having the most experience with skin cancers of all medical professions. Your dermatologist can assess, diagnose and create treatment plans for your concerning moles
  • Skin checking or mole mapping services – these services typically use nurses that have been trained in skin health to complete your assessment, and send photography and any concerns to associated dermatologists to give you the results and let you know the next steps

Get Your Skin Checked Without The Upfront Cost

While many are aware about the significant UV exposure and skin cancer risks we have here in New Zealand, paying for annual skin checks can put people off, especially if they don’t have the money available in their bank account. That’s why more dermatologists, doctors and skin check centres have stepped in to make their services more affordable by enabling health consumers to pay only a fraction of the cost of their appointment on the day of their visit – and without charging any extra fees or interest. This is done using HealthNow, the world’s first Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) platform designed specifically to support the world’s health and well-being.

HealthNow is accessed as an intuitive app on your smartphone, and it’s free to download and set up an account. The option to use this service is offered when it comes time to pay for the appointment, where users can select to divide the cost of their bill into multiple payments, choosing to pay it off over a maximum of six weeks. While health consumers only pay a fraction of the cost on the day, your medical professional gets paid in full on the same day by HealthNow. You can feel confident knowing that HealthNow meets a higher level of regulatory compliance to ensure that it operates with social responsibility in the healthcare sector.

Book Your Check Today

HealthNow is currently being used across medical centres, screening facilities and a range of other health services across New Zealand. Register free today by signing up to the app, and check out HealthNow’s full benefits and features, including a health wallet to store funds set aside for health services that can be contributed to by others including your employer.

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