Sometimes statistics can be super scary. If you're squeamish, perhaps you should stop reading now before you learn that two thirds of Australians are expected to be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer before they get to their 'seventies. As you are statistically at risk, you need to spend more time looking in the mirror or getting a loved one to help check for early signs. What should you be on the lookout for, in particular?
Risk at Any Age
Sun is a way of life down under, and young people can often be quite blasé as they go about their outdoor life. They may think that skin problems only materialise in later life, but they would be wrong, as the most aggressive type of skin cancer – melanoma – is quite often reported amongst teenagers and young adults.
Get into the Habit
Everybody should check at least once per month, and if they notice something that looks abnormal, they should go to a doctor for further advice. Certainly freckles, skin blemishes and moles are to be expected, but if anything seems to have changed its size, colour or shape, then that is a potential warning sign.
Three Primary Types
As mentioned, melanoma is particularly dangerous, as it can spread very quickly to other areas of the body. It is usually indicated by a spot that has an unusual border or may have an array of colours, including red, blue, brown or black.
Squamous cell carcinoma is not so common, but it is indicated by a thickening spot that can bleed easily if scratched, before crusting over again.
Many people will come across basal cell carcinoma, as this is by far the most common. It will initially appear as a scaly area or a lump that can be red or brown in colour. Sometimes, it will manifest as a sore that comes and goes but never seems to heal properly.
Asking the Expert
When you see your doctor, he or she may refer you to a dermatologist, and the next step may be to have a biopsy to test whether the area is indeed cancerous. It's best if you don't self-diagnose but try to get a clean bill of health from a professional instead. It's far better to be safe rather than sorry, especially as the risk is so high.
In the meantime, however, always remember to apply sunscreen if you are out in the sun for any extended period of time. It's a good idea to wear a wide brimmed hat as well, especially during the middle of the day.
For more information, contact your doctor about a skin cancer check today.