Australia is a blessed country with beautiful beaches and ample sunshine. With this blessing comes an increased risk of skin cancers in our population. We also have one of the highest incidences of Melanomas, per capita, in the world.
Am I at risk of getting skin cancer?
All individuals are at risk of getting skin cancer, and at Eaton Central we recommend everyone has an annual skin check to ensure continued health and well-being.
What factors increase my risk of getting skin cancer?
- Age – Children 15 years old and even younger are at risk of developing skin cancers.
- Personal History – If you have previously had a skin cancer removed.
- Family History – If anyone in your immediate family has had skin cancer, and in particular melanomas.
- Heritage – Individuals of Caucasian descent have an increased risk of skin cancer.
- Moles and Sunspots – Moles and sunspots have a higher risk of developing into cancerous tissues.
- Apps such as SunSmart on ioS and Android can help you to keep track of when and how long you should be outside throughout the year.
Where can skin cancers appear?
Skin cancers have a higher risk of appearing on exposed areas of skin, however Melanomas, the most serious cancers, can appear anywhere including but not exclusive to the soles of your feet, under your hair, and nether regions.
What are the symptoms of skin cancer?
When checking for Melanomas, use the
- Asymmetry – if you draw a line through the center of the spot, check if it does not look the same on both sides of the line.
- Border – look for irregular shaped spots.
- Colour – spots that are black, blue, red or white.
- Diameter – Look for spots that are larger that a cm in size.
- Evolution – With each of ABCD, make sure skin spots do not change over time.
How many people are diagnosed with skin cancers?
For the most serious types of skin cancers, melanomas, the estimation for 2017 is approximately 14,000 cases in Australia and almost 2,000 deaths. Other skin cancers are estimated to cause over 370 deaths in 2017. This is over one in every 2,000 people every year being diagnosed with skin cancer in Australia.
Information from “Cancer in Australia 2017, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Canberra Cat. no. CAN 100”
How can I reduce my chances of getting skin cancers?
- Seek Shade during the hottest times of the day.
- Avoid natural and artificial Tanning.
- Wear clothing, a hat (preferably broad rimmed), and UV protective sunglasses.
- Use Broad Spectrum Sun-screen (protecting from both UVA and UVB radiation), preferably with the highest SPF rating (i.e. SPF50). Please note that using sunscreen does not mean you are not being burned, it only reduces the risk.
- Examine your skin monthly, looking for any new blemishes or changes in old spots.
Skin Cancer Treatments
- Cryotherapy – The use of liquid nitrogen is a non-invasive procedure where a small lesion may be removed by freezing it.
- Biopsy – A biopsy is both used for the full removal of a lesion, and for testing larger lesions for cancer type under local anaesthetic. In both cases the extracted tissue is sent to a trusted pathology provider as chosen by the doctor. The results from the pathology tests are returned to the doctor who will then discuss what action is required with you if the lesion is confirmed as cancerous.
- Surgical Excision – Surgical excisions are performed by a trained doctor, and Eaton Central Skin Clinic. Excision removed the cancerous lesion as well as a small amount of tissue around the lesion to ensure a non-recurrence of the localized cancer. This procedure is performed under a local anaesthetic, and we aim to minimize scarring as much as possible during all procedures.
For cancers we are not able to treat at the practice such as those that have spread to other locations on the body, we provide references and support during your treatment and will ensure you have access to the best possible care.