You don't have to be a sun-loving beach bum to be at great risk of contracting skin cancer. Statistics show that as many as one in two people can expect to deal with some form of cancer before they get to an advanced age and although medical science is making great strides in this area, it's still a scary thought. Those who live in Australia are typically exposed to more sunlight than the average person, so it pays to take care and, specifically, to check for any signs of trouble on a regular basis. What should you be looking out for to protect yourself?
Skin problems may materialise much later in life, but they can typically originate years or even decades earlier. Some forms of skin cancer can affect young adults or teenagers, so everyone should be on the lookout for issues — even if they spend all their time indoors these days.
You should get into the habit of checking all over your body for anything unusual, at least once per month. Almost everybody has some blemishes, moles or freckles, but you need to be looking out for any abnormality. If a mole seems to be changing its colour, shape or size, for example, then you should get an expert to look at it.
Most Common Skin Cancers
- Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer and typically appears as a lump or scaly area that can be brown or red in colour. If you have a sore that seems to come and go but is always evident in some form, this should be looked at.
- A squamous cell carcinoma is more unusual but is typically identified by a spot that tends to bleed quite easily if scratched but will then crust over.
- A mole that seems to change its size or general appearance is usually classified as a melanoma. It can spread to other areas of the body quite quickly if not caught in time.
If you're worried about anything to do with your skin then you should consult with your family doctor first. He or she may then refer you to a dermatologist, who may order a biopsy to check for the presence of cancer. Not every imperfection is a sign of cancer, so you needn't panic necessarily, but it's always best to be safe rather than sorry. Consult with a professional dermatologist like those at Darwin Dermatology if you have any questions.