Skin cancer is the third most common cancer in Australia with 1 in 3 people being diagnosed before the age of 70, it can happen to anyone, at any age so it is important that we all check our own skin regularly and have a professional check at least annually. The majority of skin cancers in Australia are caused by the exposure to UV radiation in sunlight so as well as checking our skin we must take precaution to reduce the amount of UV radiation we receive and avoid sunburn.
Know your skin
Getting to know your skin (not just sun-exposed areas) and knowing what is normal for your skin is crucial. Becoming familiar with your skin and checking regularly allows for you to notice changes, have changes checked out and if required, treated early. Skin cancer found early is usually treatable and you’ll have a better chance of avoiding surgery, however, leaving it untreated a serious melanoma or other type of skin cancer can cause potential disfigurement or could even be fatal.
Know what to look for
It is a good idea to start by speaking with your doctor about your level of risk and to get advice on early detection should you spot something unusual but to begin a self-check follow the steps below:
If you notice any of the following changes be sure to get it checked with your doctor or skin specialist as soon as possible. Some skin cancers have the potential to grow very quickly and can become life-threatening in as little as 6 weeks.
- Find a room with a full length mirror.
- If on your own use a hand held mirror to check difficult to see areas.
- Undress completely and start examining your skin body part by body part until you have checked your whole body
- Ensure you check areas that are hidden such as soles of feet, between fingers and toes, under nails and ask a family member to check your scalp.
The three types of skin cancer and how to detect a Melanoma
- A change in shape, colour or size of a spot, freckle or mole
- The development of a new spot
Crusty, non-healing sores
- Small lumps that are red, pale or pearly in colour
There a three types of skin cancers, these are melanoma (including nodular melanoma) - a highly dangerous form of cancer, basal cell carcinoma - the most common but least dangerous form of cancer and squamous cell carcinoma - not as dangerous as melanoma but may spread if left untreated.
A Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer and if left untreated can spread to other parts of the body.
To detect a melanoma follow the ABCD guide below:
A for Asymmetry - Spots that are not symmetrical
B for Border - A spot that has an irregular edge ot that seems to be spreading
C for Colour - Spots that have an unusual colour or number of colours such as black, red, blue, white and/or grey
D for Diameter - Spots that are increasing in size
If you do not have a regular doctor and are worried about a change that you have noticed to your skin call 1300 30 38 34 or book online and we can have bulk billed doctor visit you in your own home to check.