Jokes aside, it might be time to check your moles. Particularly before spring and summer, so that you become familiar with your skin and can easily notice any new spots during and after summer. Early detection of melanoma and other skin cancers increases your chance of avoiding surgery—or worse. In 2015, there were more than 2000 deaths from melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer in Australia. 2 in 3 Australians are diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70 years old.
Living in Australia, we have one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Over 11,500 people are treated for melanomas in Australia. This number skyrockets to more than 434,000 people for non-melanoma cancers.
If you are susceptible to skin cancer, it is vital that you regularly check yourself and by a Medical Practitioner when you’re in doubt.
What is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is grouped into two categories: Melanoma and Non-melanoma.
Non-melanoma types of skin cancer are Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) and Squamous Cell Carcinoma. They are the most common types, most of them are not life-threatening. The most common non-melanoma skin cancer is BCC. Typically appears on the head, face, neck, shoulders and back. That's because these parts of the body receive most of your sun exposure. SCC grows quickly over a period of weeks or months. It can appear on the head, neck, hands, forearms and lower legs.
Melanoma is the most dangers form of skin cancer. While it can appear in areas of the skin that are not exposed to the sun, it typically occurs in parts of the body that are overexposed. In many cases, Melanoma has no symptoms. But you should keep an eye out for changes to existing moles or the appearance of new spots.
At risk? How will you notice any changes?
While some skin types are more sensitive to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, people of all skin types should take care when under the sun. Having said that, people who get sunburnt more quickly at a greater risk of skin cancer. Regardless of your risk level, you should develop a regular habit of checking your skin for new spots and changes to existing freckles or moles.
You can follow the Cancer Council’s detection guide on their website. It includes comparing your moles by following the ABCDE steps: Asymmetry, Border, Colour, Diameter, Evolution (or Evolving).
A is for Asymmetry- one half of the spot doesn't match the other
B is for Border- the border of the mole has an irregular or spreading edge
C is for Colours -the spot contains a number of different colours
D is for Diameter -the spot is growing or changing in size or diameter
E is for Evolving any changes in size, shape or colour are indicators you should get your skin checked by your GP
What's in a mole?
Remember that not every new mole is cancerous. Moles can appear due to your natural skin development, sun damage or are a sign of cancer. While this mostly occurs during childhood, some people can continue to develop moles in their 20’s and 30’s.
You should always book an appointment with a Medical Practitioner for any new spots after the age of 25 and especially if you are in doubt after a self-check. Make sure that your doctor is trained and utilises special devices to identify suspect spots.
Skin cancer is largely preventable. Remember, a combination of being Sun Smart, identifying changes to your skin and regular checks are your best approaches to reducing your skin cancer risk.
Be Sun Smart:
• slip on sun-protective clothing
• slop on SPF30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen