Skin cancer has reached epidemic proportions in Australia. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Australia, and Queensland has the highest incidence of skin cancer anywhere in the world. In fact, 2 out of every 3 Queenslanders can expect to develop skin cancer at some time during their life.
There are about 3/4 of a million cases of skin cancer diagnosed in Australia each year, but the good news is that early detection of skin cancer almost always leads to a successful cure.
Unfortunately, last year over 1000 Australians died from malignant melanoma, including some children.
The good news is that Australian survival rates from melanoma are generally higher than in other countries because we are now more aware of the signs of skin cancer, and detect them early.
Prevention of skin cancer means sun protection. This also applies to the damaging effects the sun can have on your eyes.
As Queensland has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world it is absolutely vital that all of us protect our skin. The UV readings are high all year round so sun protection needs to be part of our daily routine.
If we are having a day outdoors then we should wear appropriate clothing and put on a broad brimmed hat and of course have an effective sunscreen on all exposed skin which we reapply frequently.
All Queenslanders should be wearing sunscreen every day.
Don't forget that we are all outdoors for some of the day; travelling to work, dropping children at school, hanging clothes on the line etc. and all these little bits of UV exposure add up and in the long term cause skin damage.
UV rays reflect off many things in our environment including glass, concrete, water etc. so wearing a hat alone is not sufficient. A hat does have other benefits besides protecting your skin in keeping us cool and stopping excessive fluid loss on a hot day.
Remember our children spend a lot of time in the sun each day when they go to school. Make sure they have good sun protection and plenty of sunscreen on before they go to school, every day!
i.e. What do we look for at the Redlands Mole Screening & Skin Cancer Centre?
Solar keratoses (sun-spots) are usually red dry/scaly spots found on areas that have been exposed to sunlight throughout life, including the face, nose, ears and lips. They are also common on the backs of the hands and forearms. Solar keratoses are usually best removed by cryotherapy (freezing with liquid nitrogen).
Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the commonest type of skin cancer. They tend to grow slowly into a flesh-coloured or pinkish lump or may develop into a sore that won't heal. They may also look like a red patch. BCC's are often located on the face, but can also occur on the trunk or limbs. BCCs are often removed by minor surgery. If a BCC is found early enough, they may be treated very effectively with electrocautery or cryotherapy.
Bowen's Disease (Intra-epidermal squamous carcinoma) usually presents as multiple red slowly-growing crusted patches, most often on the lower legs but can also occur elsewhere.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) may grow rapidly, forming a tender crusting lump. They are found on the exposed areas, especially ears, lips, hands and lower legs. Minor surgery is the usual method of treatment.
Keratoacanthoma (KA) is a rapidly growing skin lesion which is often considered a variant of SCC. It can develop into a lump 2-3 centimetres in size in just a few weeks. While they are usually not dangerous, it is advised they be removed by excision due to their rapid growth.
Melanoma is the least common but most dangerous skin cancer, and may occur in young adults as well as the elderly. It usually looks like a growing mole or freckle with an unusual appearance. Melanomas, however, are not always black, so be suspicious of any changing or new skin spot. If diagnosed and removed by minor surgery at an early stage, it can usually be cured.
What about moles?
Moles are normal growths on the skin and are usually predetermined by your DNA. Most moles will stay with you for your whole life and never cause any problems. If however a mole undergoes any type of change then you should get that mole checked by a Doctor. Some changes might include increase (or decrease) in size, change in shape, change in colour (darker or lighter) or perhaps the development of an itch or bleeding. A change in a mole doesn't necessarily mean cancer but it is important to have it checked.