Of all the cancers we know about, skin cancer is without a doubt the most common throughout the world, but particularly in Australia. Nowadays, most cancers, with a small number of exceptions, are treatable if they are diagnosed early. However, the biggest challenge that doctors face when it comes to skin cancers is when they have either been ignored or gone unnoticed. When skin cancer develops into later stages it is more difficult to successfully treat.
Understanding the Risk of Skin Cancer
We all are at risk of contracting skin cancer. Although it is true that the type of skin you have can determine to some degree whether you are more at risk or not statistically, the biggest cause of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. No humans have a natural immunity to skin cancer and therefore it is important that everyone knows the signs to look out for and why you should have regular skin checks at King Street Medical Warrawong.
Understanding the Different Kinds of Skin Cancer and Signs to Look Out For
Skin cancer is divided up into three distinct categories. Each of these categories of skin cancer come with their own unique signs and symptoms. Let’s look at all three individually.
Melanoma is the one skin cancer that most people are fearful of developing. However, the fortunate thing is that it is the rarest of all the categories. While exposure to UV can be a contributory factor, it can also be passed on genetically. While there is skin tryp that is more susceptible or more at risk of melanoma, you are more likely to develop it you have a lot of moles on your body.
If melanoma can spread and develop without detection it can be fatal, so it’s important to check your moles regularly for any signs of changes. Signs of melanoma usually manifests in existing moles that change or darker patches of skin. The ABCDE rule is a good guide to identify the moles that may require medical attention. Be on the lookout for signs of the following changes:
- Border irregularities
- Colour that is not consist or uniform
- Diameter that is bigger than 6mm
- Evolving colour, shape, or size
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
This is the second most common category of skin cancer (after Basal Cell Carcinoma) and is caused by excessive exposure to UV. The people most at risk of this form of skin cancer are people who have fair complexions.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma can normally be identified by a scaly or flaky and sore patch of skin that becomes inflamed. Although it shares those traits with Basal cell carcinoma, it differs from it in the fact that if it can spread undetected and is not treated it can move to other parts of the body. It is also important to note that there is a subcategory of squamous cell carcinoma that is not caused directly by exposure to UV but occurs as a complication related to pre-existing skin ulcers.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
This is the most common category of skin cancer and is caused by chronic exposure to UV and is more likely statistically to develop in people with fair hair and skin.
As it develops it can manifest itself in the form of a white or pink bump, a sore that keeps bleeding or reappearing, a mole with pearly-like edges or a flat scar that looks waxy. Compared to Squamous Cell Carcinoma, this skin cancer slowly progresses over time, even decades and does not usually spread from the point of origin.
The best way to protect yourself against any of the above skin cancers is by keeping a close eye on your skin and any unnatural developments. While self-exams are good and you should look out for the signs outlined above, most adults have roughly 21 square feet of skin, so it’s important to get expert medical help too.