Skin Checks

Skin Cancer

Skin cancers originate from various cell types that make up our skin. They exhibit varying degrees of malignancy and spread (metastases). The commonest skin cancers are classified as non-melanoma skin cancers and melanomas. The most common non-melanoma skin cancers are Basal Cell Carcinoma or BCC and Squamous Cell Carcinoma or SCC. Of these, BCC’s occur more commonly than SCC’s.

BCC’s also tend not to spread (they tend to enlarge locally, in depth and spread) while SCC’s tend to metastasise, especially those on the lip, ear and in individuals whose immune status is compromised.

Melanoma is less common than non melanoma skin cancers but is the more aggressive of the two. Survival rates of melanoma are poor, although with early diagnosis, treatment is easier and survival rates possibly better.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Australia and rates are increasing. Melanoma is the most common cancer in the 15 – 44 year age group.

BCC’s are present on sun exposed areas such as the face, upper limbs and trunk. BCC’s, SCC’s and melanomas tend to occur on sun exposed areas while the popularity of sun beds is being recognised as a cause of skin cancers. Both UV-A and UV-B have been identified as causing damage to our DNA, thus inducing the development of skin cancers.

Prevention Is The Best Measure

  • Avoid excessive sun exposure, especially the midday sun – Remember “Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”
  • Wear a hat, use a sunscreen, sunglasses, cover up with clothing and shade as much as possible
  • Avoid sunburn
  • Avoid solariums
  • Check your skin for new or changing lesions
  • See your doctor about any changed lesions
  • Annual skin checks for those over 50 years
  • Pay particular attention to your skin, especially if you have a family history of melanoma or skin cancer or if you are fair skinned, if you have a repeat history of sunburn
  • If you have a large number of moles.

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