Skin cancer accounts for 80 per cent of all newly diagnosed cancers, with Melanoma being the second most common form of cancer in females aged 15-29 years.
There are three types of skin cancer, each named after the skin cells they affect:
Melanoma grows rapidly and can become life threatening very quickly if untreated.
Basal call carcinoma this is the most common but fortunately the least dangerous form.
Squamous cell carcinoma is less severe but like melanoma can spread to other parts of the body if untreated.
Skin cancer occurs when skin cells are damaged, often by Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
In Australia, 95 per cent of melanomas are a result of sunburn, due to our depleting ozone layer.
Researchers estimate that a 10 per cent decrease in the ozone layer will result in an additional 300 000 non-melanoma and 4500 melanoma skin cancer cases.
Skin cancers often stand out as being different to your surrounding skin.
If you are concerned about a spot, booking into your GP as early detection is best!
What changes in spots are you looking for?
- Moles that become asymmetrical and have uneven boarders.
- Moles that change colour, size, shape or height.
- Any crusty non-healing sores.
- Skin Cancers will look different on each individual person.
If the UV levels are 3 or above remember to Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide.
When choosing a protective sunscreen, opt for a broad spectrum SPF30+ or higher and apply 20 minutes before you go outside.
Wear sunglasses when you are outside and driving, look for sunglasses that have UV 400, as they are most effective in blocking the sun’s harmful rays.
Avoid sunburn or tanning - if your skin changes colour it’s already experienced some damage, which places you at higher risk of skin cancer in the future.
What about Vitamin D?
The best source of Vitamin D is our sun. In summer we get enough UV to maintain our levels. This is because when the UV index is high we only need a few minutes of sun exposure to meet our daily requirements.
Winter is a little different; because the UV index drops we do need to spend more time in the sun to keep our levels up - this can be up to 20 minutes a day.
The Australian Cancer Council states that if the UV is below 3 then sun protection is not required unless you work outdoors or are near reflective surfaces like water or snow for an extended period.
Most weather apps and websites will show you the day’s UV reading.
1. I previously looked for make up and face creams with SPF in them, thinking that it killed two birds with one stone. According to the Australian Cancer Council unless your make up contains SPF30+ you should consider applying sunscreen under your foundation.
2. “People with dark skin tones or that tan easily can’t get skin cancer” is a common and dangerous misconception. People with olive or darker skin are just as likely to get skin cancer as their paler friends, unfortunately they are also more likely to be detected at later, more advanced stages which can result in more aggressive treatment being required.
3. You can get sun damage in the car through the windows, even if they are tinted.
4. Prescription contact lens only protects part of the eye, so you still need to wear sunglasses.