As much as we love the sun and the warmth it gifts us with, it comes with a danger invisible to human eyes.
It is good to know how to read warning signs and when to pay more attention to the state of our skin. According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data, it shows that Australia has the highest incidence and mortality rates of skin cancer in the world. “In fact, 2087 people died from skin cancer in Australia each year. The majority of these deaths were due to melanoma ,” says Dr Ahmad Hasanien. “For those diagnosed with skin cancer, 90% of it is caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.”
This data is out in the open for a long time now and you can often hear warnings about sun exposure in the TV or read it in magazines. Yet, somehow, we still do not care. Not as much as we should, anyway. Things such as skin cancer seem to be something that happens to other people, not to us. To learn more about the different types of skin cancers, read more on here.
The good news is that caught early, almost all types of skin cancer are curable. This involves a procedure where you have to surgically remove the cancerous cells. However, if skin cancer is undetected, it can lead to disfigurement and even death.
In Australia, where the sun is hot, the skins are fair and the ozone layer is thin, it is good to make a habit of checking your skin on a regular basis, especially if you are an adult aged over 40.
Having said that, age does not exempt anybody. Children can get skin cancer, and this is why you should become familiar with your skin, as well as your loved one’s too. This way you will notice changes in the skin’s structure right away. “Regularly check all areas of the skin, including the parts which are not normally exposed to the sun is important,” says Dr Green, “This is especially the case for melanoma, as it grows very quickly within six weeks and can spread rapidly to other parts of the body.”
The ABCDE rule
As with most things, the best cure for cancer is prevention. That means following a lifestyle in which you are aware of the signs and symptoms of skin cancer.
If you have a spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, crust, scab, erode or bleed, do not ignore it. It is time to consult a medical doctor. Also, pay attention to an open sore that does not heal within two weeks. A new skin growth, mole, beauty mark or brown spot that look even a little suspicious are signs that it is good time for a professional consultation.
The easiest to remember when dealing with your skin is the ABCDE rule:
- A for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
- B for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
- C for Colour: The colour is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
- D for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimetres across (about ¼ inch – the size of a pencil eraser), although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
- E for Evolving: The mole is changing in size, shape, or colour.
Other skin cancer warning signs
Some types of skin cancer do not fit into the ABCDE rule easily. That is why you should also have the following warning signs in mind. If you discover any of these developments on your skin, it is best to consult a medical doctor as soon as possible:
- A sore that does not heal
- Spread of pigment from the border of a spot to surrounding skin
- Redness or a new swelling beyond the border
- Change in sensation – itchiness, tenderness, or pain
- Change in the surface of a mole – scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or the appearance of a bump or nodule
- Changes in texture
- Increases in size or thickness of your existing moles
- Marks that are bigger than 6mm, the size of a pencil eraser
- All new marks and moles that appear after the age of 21
Now, take a moment and have a look at your skin scanning for any kind of developments, such as changes in shape, colour or size, or new spots – have you noticed anything unusual? If you do, then it’s best to book a consultation at Specialist Clinics of Australia to assess any new moles which look alarming.
Now it’s your turn…
- Did you know you needed to have annual skin cancer checks?
- How are you protecting yourself from exposure to UV radiation?