When your skin is overly exposed to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, the skin cells can get damaged, and this can cause skin cancer. There are three main types of skin cancer.
- Basal Cell Carcinoma.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
The first two types above are known as non-melanoma skin cancers. Melanoma is one of the most dangerous types of skin cancer and the third most common cancer found in Australia.
All Australians are at risk of developing skin cancer due to overexposure to harmful UV rays, and overexposure to the sun is the cause of many skin cancers found in Australia.
Skin cancer can be caused by the following:
- Sunburn – Overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation causes Melanoma. While sunburn occurs mainly during the summer months, it can also occur on cool or overcast days as well. Many people, both adults and children, are exposed to sunburn while engaging in outdoor sports or activities.
- Tanning – Tanning, wrongly believed to be ‘healthy’, is a sign of overexposure to UV radiation, and increases your risk of skin cancer. A fake tan gives very limited protection from the sun, and by doing this people neglect to use proper protection, placing them at greater risk of getting skin cancer.
- Solariums – Solariums, like the sun, emit UV radiation and is very risky for those who use it for cosmetic tanning purposes. The UV radiation emitted by solariums can also cause skin cancer, which is why they have been banned for cosmetic use in certain parts of the country.
How do you protect yourself from skin cancer? What measures can you take to protect your skin?
- Cover as much of your skin as possible with clothing.
- Use a broad spectrum SPF30 sunscreen. This should be applied to exposed parts of your skin at least 20 minutes before going outdoors, and every two hours after that.
- Wear a large hat that covers your head, face, neck and ears.
- Stay in the shade as much as possible.
- Use sunglasses with 100% UV protection.
Childhood sun exposure is a significant factor for getting skin cancer, hence children and babies should be well protected from the sun. While sunscreen is not recommended for babies under the age of six months, you can still protect them from the sun by covering them up with clothing or by keeping them in very shady areas.
Skin cancer, if not detected early, can cause hospitalisation and surgery, disfigurement or even death. Early detection is the best way to fight skin cancer.
What kind of changes should you be suspicious of during a home skin check?
- Crusty, non-healing sores.
- Small lumps that are red or pale in colour.
- New spots, moles, freckles that change in colour, shape or thickness over a period of a few weeks or months.
Due to the high risk that Australians face with skin cancer, a regular professional skin check is highly recommended. A regular skin check is usually done every 6-12 months, however, depending on your individual risk assessment, the doctor could suggest much closer checks to be done. Skin checks are easy and painless. A medical professional will check your body from head to toe, paying close attention to spots, moles, lumps etc. They will also check for changes in colour and size etc, in order to detect if any of these spots are suspicious and should be checked further. Your records from skin checks will be kept with the clinic so that they could compare records at future appointments. Skin checks in Ascot Vale and other areas in Australia are carried out at Skin Clinics.
In addition to checking each and every spot, lump or mole, at a skin check the medial professional will:
- Assess your individual risk.
- Educate you about the risks, early detection and about self-examination.
- Educate you about precautionary measures you can take.
Some people could be more at risk of skin cancer and should get regular skin checks done. These are:
- People who have a family or personal history of skin cancer.
- Those above 65 years of age.
- People who spend a lot of time outdoors.
You can easily make an online appointment for a skin check in Ascot Vale or any other area at a skin clinic convenient for you. It is easy and safe, and these clinics will have all the information you require regarding skin cancer, as well as its prevention and treatment.
Don’t let the fear of skin cancer keep you from enjoying your life. Early detection is the key to beating skin cancer.