Let’s talk skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer that you can get. By the time you turn 70, 2 out of 3 Australians will have been diagnosed with at least one skin cancer. So, what does this mean and what can we do about it?
Despite our familiarity with melanomas, non-melanotic skin cancers make up the majority of skin cancers that are diagnosed. These include Basal cell carcinomas (BCCs), which may look like a pearly lump or a scaly, shiny pale area. Squamous cell carcinomas, (SCCs) can vary in appearance, from a rapidly growing lump, a red scaly spot or may simply look like a sore that hasn’t healed.
Melanomas are the most dangerous form of skin cancer, as they usually spread the quickest, and are the most life-threatening. These can be changes to a pre-existing mole, for example, a change in colour, shape or size, or may form quickly as a new spot. Although non-melanoma skin cancers may not spread as quickly, they can still be harmful if left for too long.
Sun protection (especially the harsh summer Tamworth sun) is the most useful tool in skin cancer protection. This includes ensuring we wear SPF30+ sunscreen, covering up as much skin as possible, and a wide brimmed hat and avoiding the middle of the day when UV light is the most intense.
Lastly, if you do notice an odd or changing skin spot, seek medical attention quickly. Minor surgery is treatment for most common skin cancers and can often be done by your family GP. Some larger spots or ones in more difficult areas, may need to be referred for specialist care.
If we all pay extra attention to these little tips, we can all push to make skin cancer into a preventable issue.