A Skin Check May Save Your Life
Skin cancer is a pressing health concern in Australia, where it ranks as the most common form of cancer, accounting for approximately 80% of all new cancer diagnoses each year. This alarming statistic underscores the importance of skin cancer checks, early detection, and prevention.
Understanding Skin Cancer
Skin cancers develop when skin cells are repeatedly damaged over time, leading to the abnormal transformation of these cells into malignant cancer cells. One of the primary risk factors for skin cancer is overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Australia’s high rates of skin cancer can be attributed to its intense UV radiation levels, making it two to three times more prevalent compared to other countries such as the US, UK, and Canada.
Types of Skin Cancer
There are three main types of skin cancer:
- Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC): BCC is one of the non-melanoma skin cancers and is the most common type. It tends to develop with age and is twice as likely to occur in males. BCC can manifest as subtle skin changes, including crusting, small lumps, or red, pale, or pearly skin changes.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC): Like BCC, SCC is a non-melanoma skin cancer and becomes more prevalent with age, especially in males. It can present as a thickened, red, scaly or crusting spot that may bleed or be tender to touch.
- Melanoma: Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. It can originate from existing freckles or moles or develop as new skin lesions. Identifying melanoma can be challenging, as it often presents with subtle changes in colour, shape, and size.
Prevention and Early Detection
When it comes to skin cancer, prevention is paramount. Sun exposure is the leading cause of both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers, accounting for 99% and 95%, respectively. Protecting your skin from UV radiation through measures like wearing sunscreen, protective clothing, and seeking shade is crucial.
Equally important is early detection. Early intervention significantly improves the chances of successfully treating and eliminating skin cancer. Regular self-examination is essential for recognising new or changing skin lesions, prompting timely medical review.
The Role of Regular Skin Checks
Regular skin checks with a medical professional, ideally every 12 months (or every 6 months for individuals at high risk), offer the best chance of early detection and intervention. Studies have shown that clinical examination by a doctor is associated with a lower risk of advanced skin cancer diagnosis.
The Skin Check Process
Skin checks are a straightforward and non-invasive procedure. Here’s what you can expect:
- Comprehensive Examination: A medical professional will carefully inspect every surface of your skin, from head to toe. They will identify potentially concerning lesions or abnormalities.
- Dermatoscope Examination: To further characterise and assess the risk of concerning lesions, a dermatoscope may be used. This specialised tool provides an enhanced view of the skin’s surface.
- Discussion and Planning: Any concerning lesions will be discussed with you, and a personalised plan will be devised. Treatment options may include topical treatments, biopsy, excision, or, in some cases, referral to surgical specialists.
Skin Cancer Affects Individuals of Any Age
Skin cancer can affect individuals of any age, making regular skin checks and early detection crucial for everyone. Given Australia’s high incidence of skin cancer, taking preventive measures and seeking professional skin checks are essential steps toward protecting your health. Don’t wait; visit our skin cancer clinic today for your own skin check and assessment.
People Also Ask (FAQs):
The primary risk factor for skin cancer in Australia is overexposure to UV radiation from the sun. Other factors include fair skin, a history of sunburn, and a family history of skin cancer.
To protect yourself from skin cancer, use sunscreen, wear protective clothing, seek shade during peak sun hours, and avoid tanning beds. Regular self-examination and professional skin checks are also important.
In Australia, some private health insurance policies may cover skin checks, but coverage can vary. It’s advisable to check with your insurer for specific details regarding skin cancer screenings.