Skin cancer is a major issue facing many people around the world, with millions of new skin cancer patients being reported globally every year. In Australia, it is no secret that skin cancer is a huge risk factor. All Australians are at risk of getting skin cancer at some time in their life.
With Australia’s ageing population, the risk of skin cancer is much higher, as the older you get the more at risk you are. In addition, if these people had been sunburned during their childhood, then there is a greater risk of them actually getting skin cancer.
People at greater risk of skin cancer are:
- People with a very fair skin tone.
- Those with abnormally shaped, sized, or coloured moles.
- People who experience extreme exposure to the sun regularly.
- People who have a history of sunburn.
- People exposed to radiation or chemicals.
- Those with a personal or family history of skin cancer.
- Excessive smokers, and those who use alcohol or other substances.
- Those with weak immune systems.
People in these categories should get a regular skin cancer check in Melbourne, or at any skin clinic close to them, in order to detect any serious issues early on. Skin checks and other tests for skin cancers can be conducted at any skin cancer clinic in Melbourne or any other city by medical professionals. Doctors also recommend that people do a self-check on a regular basis, as skin cancer is usually detected visually since it is a rather painless type of cancer. A self-check can be done in a well-lit room with a full-length mirror, where you check every part of your body for unusual spots, moles, lumps or lesions.
Skin cancers can appear anywhere in the body, but most skin cancer types appear on areas which are exposed to the sun. There are several types of skin cancer that appear on the face, such as:
- Actinic Cheilitis (Farmer’s Lip) – This is a pre-cancerous condition that appears on the lower lip. It appears as scaly patches or persistent roughness on the lips. Other symptoms of this type of condition could include lip swelling and prominent lip lines. If this condition is not treated well in time, it could evolve into Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
- Moles – A benign growth of melanocyte cells is known as a mole. While in general moles are not cancerous, abnormal moles can develop into skin cancer (Melanoma) over time. Abnormal moles are those that have an irregular shape, changes in colour, or is larger than the eraser on a pencil.
- Merkel Cell Carcinoma – These are firm, shiny nodules that appear just beneath the skin or in the hair follicles.
- Sebaceous Gland Carcinoma – This is a very aggressive type of cancer, but the good news is that it is not very common. These cancer cells originate in the oil glands of the skin, and appear as hard, painless nodules, usually appearing on the eyelids. Since they are on the eyelids, they are usually mistaken for other conditions and are overlooked.
- Melanoma – Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer, and it could spread to other parts of the body as well. It affects people of any skin colour and appears as large brown spots, a mole that changes in colour, size or shape, lesions that itch and burn, etc.
- Basal Cell Carcinoma – These appear on parts of the skin that are exposed to the sun as a pearl-like lump, a bleeding or scabby sore, or as scar-like lesions. This is a very common form of skin cancer affecting many people.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma – These also appear on sun-exposed parts of the body, but can appear elsewhere as well. It shows up as a red nodule or lesion that is scaly or crusted on the surface.
When it comes to skin cancers, early detection is very important to avoid such conditions evolving into more serious situations. Early detection is key and prevention is the best possible way to avoid skin cancers. According to doctors at skin cancer clinics in Melbourne and elsewhere, there are many small things you can do on a daily basis to protect yourself from skin cancer. These include:
- Checking your body once a month for irregular spots, lumps, moles or lesions.
- Getting a professional skin cancer check in Melbourne or at any skin clinic close to you.
- Limit exposure to the sun. Don’t go out during midday when the sun is at its most extreme.
- If you do have to go out, use clothing to cover your body and protect yourself from the hot sun.
- Use a good broad-spectrum sunscreen that is SPF-30 or higher. Sunscreen should be applied at least 20 minutes before going out, and then regularly reapplied on the skin.
- Wear a good quality pair of sunglasses with 100% UVA & UVB protection.
- Avoid using tanning beds that emit UV radiation.
- Always stay in the shade when you are outside.
Don’t let the fear of skin cancer prevent you from enjoying your life. Protect yourself and follow the advice of professionals to stay safe and still enjoy the great outdoors.