Dr. Anita Lasocki is a Fellow of the Australasian College of Dermatologists and a Consultant Dermatologist. She is also a Clinical Senior Lecturer at The University of Melbourne, and chief examiner and coordinator of the Undergraduate Student Prize in Dermatology examinations across all four medical schools in Victoria, Australia.
Dr Lasocki joins us for our "We've got you covered" series to share her perspective and recommendations relating to skin cancer prevention and sun safety.
How did you get interested in dermatology?
It’s a wonderful specialty with a balance of medicine, surgery, art and science. I look after patients of all ages right from babies through to my elderly patients and it’s a privilege to get to know my patients and their families over the years. Dermatologists advise and care for disorders of hair, skin, nails, genitals, and of course a large part of my working day involves the early detection and management of skin cancer including surgery.
Where do you practice dermatology?
My private practice is at South Road Dermatology in Brighton East, where I am the Practice Principal. I have public appointments as a Consultant Dermatologist at St Vincent’s Hospital, Fitzroy, and at The Royal Women’s Hospital in Parkville. This is a particularly unique clinic, where we manage complex Vulvar Disorders and skin conditions in pregnancy.
Describe yourself in 3 to 5 words.
Practical, thorough and compassionate.
Why do you think skin cancer rates are increasing?
We are getting much better at earlier detection which often means treatment for patients is more straightforward, than had detection happened at a later time. For my older patients who were often badly sunburnt regularly in childhood and during their young-adult years, the damage accumulates and we are seeing a large burden of skin cancers in the older age groups in particular.
How do you include sun safety practices in your daily routine?
Daily sunscreen year-round personally on my face and making sure my children have sunscreen applied before school and sports. It’s a non-negotiable in my household. We have plenty of hats at home and lots of pairs of sunglasses (they often get lost), so that we can always find something!
What recommendations do you make to your patients who want to be proactive in protecting their skin from UV overexposure?
I’m all for people leading active lives and enjoying outdoor hobbies. We can’t be hermits. It’s just a matter of doing things a little differently. Where practical, pursuing outdoor sports earlier in the morning or towards the end of the day. Monitoring the UV index. Fabric really is your best sunscreen, so choosing comfortable clothing that will allow you to pursue your sports or activity.
Our customer’s most common questions
What is the most common cause of skin cancer amongst your patients?
Accumulated UV exposure over your lifetime and a history of blistering burns and/or solarium exposure. For some patients, there is a genetic predisposition.
Is it possible to lead a normal life if you have been diagnosed with skin cancer or melanoma?
Absolutely, it’s just a case of doing things a little differently. As I mentioned before, it's important to try and pursue outdoor sports earlier in the morning or towards the end of the day, and monitor the UV index. Fabric really is your best sunscreen, so choosing comfortable clothing (that is UPF50+ rated) everyday will allow you to pursue a "normal" life.
What would you recommend for post skin cancer operation sun safety?
Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and long sleeved clothes for outdoor activities.
From a skin cancer prevention perspective, what is the best form of sun protection?
It’s really a combination of many steps. Monitoring the UV index for that day – and being aware it can be very high even if the temperature is low and even if it’s cloudy! Making sun protection part of your routine – Long sleeved outfits for outdoor activities. Daily sunscreen to your face, sunglasses, and hats everywhere – in the house, in the car – so that you never have to rummage around for one. Adapting your activities to earlier in the morning or later in the day when the UV index is lower. Be a hat person and have plenty of them!
It is very difficult to the untrained eye to identify melanomas and skin cancers because they can come in many different shapes and sizes.
As Associate Professor Rosemary Nixon from the Skin & Cancer Foundation Inc. says, "the earlier a skin cancer is identified and treated, the better the chance of avoiding surgery, or in the case of a serious melanoma or skin cancer, potential disfigurement or even death."