We live in a country with a hot climate and high levels of UV radiation from the sun occurring majority of the year. As a result sun exposure is responsible for approximately 99% of non-melanoma type skin cancers and about 95% of melanoma in Australia. This in turn, has caused melanomas to be the fourth highest commonly diagnosed cancer in 2018 with majority of cases occurring in people aged 40 years and above. We at Vitalia Healthcare can help you through provision of methods of prevention and assisting with early detection:
Prevention is especially important with increasing UV levels over recent decades. Preventing harmful UV rays from contacting the skin will markedly reduce the risk of skin cancers in most people. In people with light skin, 10 minutes of sunlight each day in the mid-morning on the face, neck and arms is sufficient for adequate levels of Vitamin D in most people. For people with darker skin little longer is required. Using sunscreen does not markedly affect your Vitamin D production so this should not be a reason not to use it.
A self-check of your skin should be done at least every 3 months according to Skincheck WA. This can be done in good lighting and in front of a mirror. It also helps if you have someone that can help you check hard-to-see areas on your body e.g. back and top of head. When checking there are a few things that you should look for that would prompt you to see your GP for a check:
About 80% of melanoma type skin cancers do not arise from an existing spot (i.e. they arise anew), which means about 20% do. Even though sun exposure is a big risk factor, melanomas can also arise anywhere, not just in sun-exposed areas. You should have any pigmented spots that you are worried about checked by your GP. A good method of assessing is to use the ABCDE method. If working through the method you find that there are certain qualities present, you should make an appointment with your doctor. The ABCDE method is as follows:
A – Asymmetry: when you imagine a line down the middle of the lesion and one side of the line is not a similar shape to the other, it is asymmetrical;
B – Border irregularity: when you look at the border, it is irregularly if there is not a nice neat curve at the edges;
C – Colour variation: if the colour varies within the lesion;
D – Diameter: if the diameter is over 6mm;
E – Evolution: if it is changing or growing larger.An annual skin-check by an experienced doctor – This interval may be shorter if you have had previous skin cancers and this would be discussed with you at the time of diagnosis. All other people should have an annual skin check.
Several of our doctor’s offer full skin checks and all of them are skilled in minor skin surgery. Further information can be provided by our reception staff upon request or by looking at the individual doctor’s profiles on this website.