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Aging is inevitable; looking your age is not. If there’s anyone more intent on looking younger for longer, it’s celebrities, whose jobs often depend on their ability to perform in a wide range of roles no matter their age. The tabloids are full of examples of celebrities who seem to have accessed the secret to a clear complexion and the knowledge of how to take a perfect photo.

You may assume it’s from Botox or photoshop, and often it is; however, as part of their daily routine to maintain good skin for interviews, auditions, and paparazzi shots, some of the world's biggest celebrities are turning to good old sunscreen. From Drew Barrymore never leaving home without her stick SPF to Charlize Theron proclaiming herself a ‘sunscreen fanatic’, these celebrities understand how to stay safe in the sun.

Celebrities – they’re just like us!

Six celebrities & their sunscreen routines

  1. Hugh Jackman

Being an Australian male born pre-80’s, Hugh Jackman is at uniquely high risk for developing skin cancer (click here to read why), and as a result, he’s come close to the disease six times in his life. He quotes his experience as a cautionary tale of why you should wear sunscreen. Jackman states that even though Basal Cell Carcinoma is the ‘mildest form of skin cancer’, it is serious nonetheless, and it can be prevented with proper sun protection and regular check-ups.

  1. Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron has been quoted multiple times crediting sunscreen as her most essential tool for anti-aging. Speaking with In Style, Theron states, “I don’t go out of my house a day without sunblock. I stash it in my car. I put it on my hands when I’m driving. I am a sunblock fanatic”. Theron understands the importance of sunscreen not only on the face but the hands, which often experience fast aging from sun exposure on the steering wheel. Her choice of sunscreen is French export La-Roche Posay Anthelios AOX for its added anti-aging benefits.

  1. Nicole Kidman

Kidman is known for her porcelain skin, often bringing timeless beauty and elegance to her roles. According to an interview with Allure in 2017, Kidman is ‘obsessed’ with slathering on the sunscreen and hopes to pass this habit down to her children. Kidman has a family history of skin cancer from her parents, so her diligence is more than beauty based. With freckles as a child, Kidman has always been driven to products that would even her skin tone, and as an avid researcher, she couldn’t get past simple sunscreen as her beauty go-to.

  1. Jennifer Garner

Star of the big screen, Garner is the friend in her social circle who always has sunscreen on hand. In an interview with Hello Giggles in 2018, Garner is quoted saying that she preaches to her friends and children not to ‘waste any time’ and that sunscreen is important whether it’s overcast or sunny, even if you’re standing in the shade. Understanding how intense the sun is, Garner has gotten a handle on her sun-damaged skin through regular sunscreen usage but regrets not knowing to use it sooner in her life.   

  1. Zac Efron

Zac Efron seems to be shirtless in many of his roles, and in a recent one – Baywatch- he spent long hours in the sun with sunscreen as his only line of defence. Speaking with Refinery29, Efron pleads with fans to ‘wear sunscreen every day, please’, as he understands that no amount of sun is safe. Efron uses the EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46, along with Kourtney Kardashian and Brooke Shields, reportedly.  

  1. Drew Barrymore

Barrymore spoke of her reluctance in a recent post to use sunscreen on her sensitive skin that is prone to breakouts. Thankfully, the actress understands the importance of broad-spectrum sun protection and diligently searched to find products that would suit her skin, being gentle yet packing a high protective barrier against UV rays. Now, she never leaves home without the Clinique SPF 45 stick and favours the celebrity-loved EltaMD products and La-Roche Posay range.  

What else you can do to protect your skin

As these celebrities understand, sunscreen is essential to any effective sun protection and anti-aging routine. Our skin works hard to protect us from ultraviolet radiation, working overtime when exposed to the sun’s harmful rays. According to skincancer.org, regular use of SPF as low as 15 can reduce your risk of developing Squamous Cell Carcinoma by around 40% and your risk of developing melanoma by 50%. Additionally, it can help to prevent premature aging by protecting against wrinkles, sunspots, and sagging.

While sunscreen is incredibly important, it isn’t the only measure you should be putting in place to live a sun-safe life. The well-known adage ‘slip slop slap seek and slide’ holds true, emphasising the importance of seeking shade and wearing sun-safe clothing, a hat, and sunnies for a comprehensive sun protection strategy.

While regular and proper use of sunscreen is essential, it isn’t the only measure you can take to ensure your skin is protected from the sun. One of the best things to add to your sun protection plan is regular skin checks. This becomes even more important if you have a family history of skin cancer or have physiology that would place you at a higher risk of developing skin cancer. This can include having fair skin, freckles, light eyes or even being on certain medications that would increase your photosensitivity. 

A skin check will allow a professional to examine any concerning spots or questionable marks on your skin. In addition, a skin check is the best way to catch skin cancer early, making treatment easier and preventing complications.

Do you have a clean bill of health?

Getting a professional skin check is the only way to have complete peace of mind that your skin is in good health. Many of our clients have annual skin checks to kick off their summer or confidently step into Spring. The Cancer Council emphasises the importance of early detection for easy treatment, which is simpler and more effective with a professional skin exam.

Early detection saves lives, and we’re here to bring certainty through professional skin checks. Click here to book yours.

Skin is the body's largest organ, and it protects the body in many ways. As the first layer of defence from the outside world, the skin is exposed to harsh elements, intense UV rays and other environmental hazards. Our skin works hard to keep us healthy and alert us to danger. Just as it converts sunlight into vitamin D to give us healthy bones, the skin can alert us to skin cancer by presenting with dark moles or unusual spots.

The ultraviolet light emitted from the sun can cause sunburn, premature aging, wrinkles and, of course, skin cancer. Many Australians are aware of this fact, with the country experiencing some of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. However, some believe myths that remove the urgency of a skin check or allow them to palm off sun exposure as ‘no big deal’.

When it comes to protection for your skin, knowledge is power, and we’ve busted some of the most popular myths so you can have confidence that you’re doing right by your skin.

Myth #1 You need exposure to sunlight to produce Vitamin D

Vitamin D is responsible for helping your body to absorb calcium to maintain the strength of your bones throughout your life. Your body produces Vitamin D primarily from the sun’s UV rays; however, the exposure you need for adequate production is very little. Even with very low UV levels, your daily activity is enough to give adequate Vitamin D, from walking to get your morning coffee to hanging out the washing. There is no need to sunbake or hang out in the sun for hours to increase your Vitamin D, especially in most parts of Australia, where UV levels are generally high.

Myth #2 I don’t suntan, so I’m immune to skin cancer

When you think of sun damage, you may conjure images of people lathered in oil baking by the pool for hours on end. This is a rarer sight these days; however, it doesn’t mean that the instance of skin cancer has lessened. Sun damage can happen when we least expect it, such as watching a weekend footy match or even sitting by a sunny window on an average workday. Just as we are exposed to enough sunlight to produce Vitamin D, we are exposed to enough daily to sustain skin damage.

Myth #3 You don’t need sunscreen if you have dark skin

While the physiology of those with darker skin makes them less prone to developing skin cancer, they are not immune. There are six types of skin colour and sensitivity levels based on the Fitzpatrick Skin Phototype. Those with deeply pigmented skin are very resistant to burns; however, the skin's DNA is still at risk of permanent damage from UV rays. This can result in skin cancer, even if you’ve never had a burn.

Myth #4 My skin doesn’t burn, so I don’t need sun protection

We’ve all heard the adage, ‘tanning is skin cells in trauma’, and it’s true. There is no such thing as a safe tan. While an even bronze tan might be a nice souvenir, the damage caused can be lifelong, with permanent damage to the cells caused by exposure to UV radiation. Even if you manage to tan without peeling or developing redness, there is much more damage below the surface.

Myth #5 If the weather is overcast or raining, you can’t get sun damage

This is one that causes sunburn on tourists and locals alike every year. As our skin cannot feel UV radiation, we can get burnt even when it is cool out. You are at risk when the UV rays are at three or above. UV rays can penetrate through the clouds, burning the skin even when the sun is nowhere to be seen. While many think that sunburn is caused by heat, it is caused by radiation which can occur no matter what the weather of the day is.

Myth #6 You only need sunscreen outside

This is potentially one of the biggest myths, and we can’t blame you – sunlight is an outside thing, right? Wrong. Ever stepped off a plane to notice some redness and tightness on your skin? Or noticed your hands are starting to age quicker than the rest of you after years spent baking on the steering wheel? These are just some instances where being indoors hasn’t protected you from the sun. UV rays can penetrate through glass, and if you only apply sunscreen when you’re outside, chances are you have already been exposed to harmful UV radiation.

Myth #7 Solariums are a ‘safe tan’

Solariums aren’t as in vogue as they used to be, but some still believe they are a safer way to tan. However, sunbeds produce much more UV radiation than even the sun, up to 6 times more. Those who use sunbeds before the age of 35 have a 59% increased chance of developing melanoma than those who don’t, and they can cause premature aging. Each session causes more damage, and it may be years before you see the extent of that damage.

Myth #8 Makeup with SPF is enough sun protection

The makeup industry has cottoned on to the anti-aging effects of SPF, and as skin cancer professionals, we’re grateful for any extra SPF our patients are exposed to. However, the SPF in your makeup isn’t enough to provide comprehensive protection. Cosmetic products and moisturisers are not generally made to be relied on as the main line of defence against the sun, and it would take applying much more than you typically would to have enough product for protection. Instead, apply a layer of sunscreen under your makeup and keep a bottle of powdered or spray-on SPF 50+ in your bag for top-ups throughout the day.

Myth #9 Every sunscreen is the same

You’ve done the right thing, picked up the sunscreen that was available in your local store and ticked it off your to-do list. However, not all sunscreen is made equal. Only broad-spectrum sunscreen will protect against both UVA and UVB rays. An easy way to remember the difference is UVAge and UVBurn. Exposure to both will cause premature aging, burning and an increased risk of skin cancer. Ensure your sunscreen is broad-spectrum and over SPF 30 for complete protection.

Myth #10 Skin cancer is always easy to spot

Self-checking your skin is essential, necessary, and simple; however, it is not foolproof. Some changes to the skin can be very subtle, and parts of the skin that can develop skin cancer can be hard to reach or examine, even with a partner. You should never leave a suspicious spot in hopes it will resolve on its own, as the longer skin cancer develops, the harder it is to treat.

The only guaranteed way to achieve certainty around your skin health is to have a professional skin check at least once a year. Your skin professional can keep track of any skin changes and examine any questionable spots closely to ensure they aren’t a sign of a more significant issue. Skin cancer is highly treatable when caught early. Be certain with Sun Doctors and book your skin check-in today.

Click here for more information.

Why travelling with skin protection is so important...

With the world opening back up post-pandemic, many Australians are flocking to the closest airport to spread their wings once more.

Whether you are travelling interstate to finally see family after a long time apart, or you're planning to check Europe off your bucket list - no one could blame you for hurriedly packing and rushing out the door. Although, before you leave home, there is one important travel companion you should never leave behind - sunscreen. 

Apply sunscreen wherever you land

Keeping your sunscreen applied during travel is important whether you're sitting in the window seat or sprawled out on the beach. The sun exposure you can get from sitting behind an aeroplane window can cause a world of damage to your skin.

If you've ever been sitting by the window on a particularly sunny day, you will know how hot and uncomfortable your seat can get, and worse, how red your skin can turn. Flying at 30,000 feet puts you much closer to the sun and doing so for 60 minutes can be as dangerous as spending 20 minutes in a tanning bed, according to Dermatologist Dr Doris Day.

While you’re sitting in an aeroplane, UV rays don't have to travel as far to cause damage, given the elevated altitudes increasing their intensity. While enjoying the sun on your face during your mid-flight nap, the UVA and UVB rays could be wreaking havoc on your skin, increasing both your rate of ageing and your risk of skin cancer. 

Sunscreen is important even when you're flying

Use travel sizes while you're on the move

Before jumping into a plane or an Uber, ensure a travel-sized tube of broad-spectrum SPF 50+ sunscreen is handy in your carry on. A broad-spectrum sunscreen should be applied approximately 30 minutes before your flight takes off and reapplied every 2 hours. You may feel silly applying sunscreen while technically 'indoors', but you will be able to rest easier knowing harmful rays are being kept at bay.

 

Pack your sunscreen to protect your skin during travel

Travel Tools to Keep You Sun Safe

When travelling, it is likely that you're planning to download some helpful apps and bookmark some useful websites to keep your trip safe and fun.

A great tool regarding sun safety while travelling is the SunSmart sunscreen calculator app, which will tell you how much sunscreen to apply based on your location in Australia.

The app uses information from the Bureau of Meteorology and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPNSA) to inform your risk of sun exposure and alert you to reapply when needed. The app will allow you to plan your trip based on the UV prediction of your area, which should be just as closely monitored as your risk of getting caught in the rain. 

If you're interested in monitoring the UV index manually, the ARPNSA have an incredibly accurate, location-based Ultraviolet Radiation monitor that can be found here. 

All About Sunscreen Application...

The Cancer Council recommends using sunscreen on days where the UV Index is at a 3 or above. Many people, both travellers and locals alike, can get caught out because they don't apply the right amount or type of sunscreen at the right time. According to SunSmart, 85% of Australians don't apply enough sunscreen daily. Pair that with the fact that most of the country is in a UV Index of 3 or above for most of the year, and the risk of skin cancer speaks for itself. 

No sunscreen can block out 100% of danger from the sun; however, when paired with clothing, shade, and a hat, it forms a strong line of defence.

The best practice is to apply sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside and reapply every 2 hours, more frequently if swimming or sweating. 

The recommended amount of sunscreen for an adult is 5ml for each limb plus the chest, back, face and neck, equating to approximately 35ml over the entire body. You may be tempted while escaping to a warmer climate to stock up on Vitamin D. However, according to the Cancer Council, sitting in the sun doesn't cause your Vitamin D levels to increase. When the UV levels are above 3, you will get all the Vitamin D you need in just a few minutes while completing everyday activities, so you can skip the sun-baking and head out for sightseeing instead. 

young girl with sunscreen on her nose

Our Recommended Travel Sunscreens... 

Sunscreen has certainly come a long way in the past few decades, with it being easier now more than ever to get broad-spectrum sunscreen that is affordable and rated over 30 on the SPF scale. The Cancer Council doesn’t recommend aerosol sunscreens, with tubed and roll-on options forming a much more reliable choice.

Some of our top recommendations include:

The Cancer Council Active Travel Sunscreen 50+ 

At under $10, this sunscreen is dry-touch, fast-absorbing and perfect for adventure-seeking travellers who spend their time hiking or running to the next train. 

Shop active travel sunscreen here

The Cancer Council Roll-On SPF 50+ 

There isn't a handier application method than a roll-on sunscreen. Perfect for a range of skin types and simple to reapply whenever needed, this broad-spectrum, fragrance-free SPF 50+ sunscreen will protect against sun rays while avoiding dripping sunscreen in the taxi or impacting your aeroplane neighbour with strong scents. 

Shop roll-on here. 

We Are Feel Good Inc. Cocoa Lip Balm 50+

Many people fall into the trap of forgetting their lips when considering sun protection, but the delicate skin in this area is one of the areas most prone to skin cancer. This broad-spectrum SPF 50+ lip balm will nourish your lips while protecting them from the sun with up to 4 hours of water resistance. 

Shop lip balm here

The Cancer Council Repel Sunscreen 

This sunscreen is worth a mention as Australians across the country hook up caravans and pack the tent for outdoor adventures. This SPF 50+ sunscreen has insect repellent within the recipe to protect even the most avid outdoors people from both insects and the sun during hikes, marshmallow toasting and sightseeing. 

Shop Repel sunscreen here

sunscreen in a baby's palm
Sunscreen is important for every traveler

Travel with peace of mind... 

You deserve to spread your wings and explore the country, escape overseas, or cuddle your long-lost loved ones interstate.

Before you head off, ensure a clean bill of health with a skin check at one of our clinics located near you. We can't wait to hear about your travel plans and will remind you to pack plenty of sunscreen to keep you safe from the sun during your adventures. 

Book your skin check today!

Like many of us, Matt Kean was a busy, hardworking family man who let life get in the way of his regular skin checks. That was until skin cancer stopped him in his tracks.

At the age of 38, he was shocked to discover that the mole he had been ignoring for over a month was indeed cancerous, spreading to his lymph nodes, resulting in stage 4 cancer. With a prognosis of only a decade, Mr Kean was left wondering what might have been different if he had just gotten his mole checked out the moment it turned suspicious.  

Waiting until the last minute...

This is a story we hear all too often as skin cancer professionals, where patients with high-risk factors such as fair skin, red hair, a family history of cancer or an active life spent in the sun, have left their skin checks to the last minute resulting in devastating consequences.

Mr Kean had fallen into the trap of only applying sunscreen on sunny days and even forgoing a hat when the weather was overcast. A few hours of doing this per week while you watch a soccer game or cook a BBQ, and you could be subjecting your skin to unseen dangers. 

The mole that went untreated for a month. Find the full article and image here.

So, what are the risk factors you should look out for? And how can you best protect yourself? We will discuss these queries and more as we help you to avoid letting life get in the way of your skin health any longer. 

The Top 8 Skin Cancer Risk Factors:

Nobody is immune from the risk of developing skin cancer, however, certain personal characteristics may place you at greater risk, including:

  1. Fair skin colour
  2. Skin that burns, freckles, or reddens in the sun 
  3. Blue or green eyes 
  4. Blonde or red hair 
  5. Many moles and freckles 
  6. A family history of skin cancer 
  7. Previous history of skin cancer 
  8. You are over 50 

Whether you have the above risk factors or not, reducing your exposure to UV rays can keep your skin healthy and reduce your chance of developing skin cancer.

In Australia, the UV rating is within a high range for most of the year. Our position near the equator along with our elliptical orbit around the sun and our axial tilt ensure that we are closer to the sun than the Northern Hemisphere during summer, placing our UV index around 10-14 for a good portion of the year.

The skin is at risk when the UV rating is at 3 or above, meaning all Australians should be religious about their sun protection. 

The 5 S’s Explained…

It’s an iconic phrase that many Australians have grown up with – slip slop slap seek & slide – but do you truly know what it means?

While many people born after 1980 featured slip slop slap as some of their first words, a survey of over a thousand people discovered that only 33% knew there were two more additions to the phrase. The Cancer Council are the experts responsible for teaching young Australians to slip on a shirt, slop on a hat and slap on some sunscreen, with the campaign still running strong over 40 years later. 

The chair of the Cancer Council National Skin Cancer Committee, Heather Walker, insists that the final two S’s – seek and slide – are just as important as their predecessors, with modern research resulting in greater tools for protection.

The World Health Organisation reports that up to 20% of cataracts may be caused by overexposure to UV radiation. Research also suggests that overexposure may result in overall macular degeneration and can be linked to pterygium, a growth that can result in reduced vision, inflammation of the cornea and cancer of the eye. Simply sliding on some sunscreen can protect both the delicate skin around the eyes and the eye itself from harm.

The major cause of skin cancer is exposure to UV rays. Good quality shade can reduce UV exposure by up to 75%, making it one of the easiest ways to protect yourself against the sun.

Good quality shade should be comfortable to use in all seasons and should protect the users from both direct and indirect sources of UV rays. Shade can be natural, including dense trees close to the ground, or built such as stand-alone, portable or add on structures. The shade should be positioned in such a way that it will provide protection during the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest and the UV rays are most intense. 

Don’t Delay – Be Certain with Sun Doctors 

The case study of this blog, Mr Matt Kean, is a schoolteacher who spends hours in the sun year-round. With many complex risk factors such as fair skin, red hair and multiple moles, Mr Kean knew to implore only one of the S’s religiously – slapping on sunscreen – however, wasn’t consistent with the rest of the guidelines.

He is now committed to spreading the word about how important each rule is to follow, encouraging young Australians to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide to give them the best chance of avoiding skin cancer. 

At Sun Doctors, we believe that prevention is always better than a cure, and it begins with annual skin checks.

Skin cancer is highly preventable and incredibly treatable if caught early. UV from the sun is responsible for up to 95% of skin cancers, according to the Cancer Council, and by following the simple guidelines listed above, you will have a greater chance of avoiding a similar fate as Mr Kean. 

The team at Sun Doctors' skin cancer clinics are committed to your long-term skin health and safety so you can enjoy the comfort of our sunny country with peace of mind. A quick, easy, and non-intrusive skin check is the only way to be certain.

Click here to book your appointment online for a clinic near you or give our team a call on 13 SKIN (13 75 46) to find out more. 

A long life spent in one of the sunniest countries in the world sounds like a dream come true.

And for many people, it is, with the average life expectancy increasing and the quality of living improving for older Australians.

However, after spending decades without the availability of proper research and subsequent knowledge of how to protect themselves from the sun, many older Australians are discovering skin cancer as an unwelcomed guest in the sunset years of their life.

Unfortunately, older people are susceptible to skin cancer popping up after years' spent sun baking and enduring long days out in the blistering heat. 

Up until the Cancer Council’s slip slop slap campaign in the 1980s, many Australians were unaware of the dangers of the sun, resulting in olive oil clad ladies sprawled on beaches and shirtless men spending hours by the BBQ or running around a footy field.

"Skin cancer can rear its ugly head decades after the damage has already been done..."

It is an unfortunate fact that skin cancer can rear its ugly head decades after the damage has already been done, resulting in the older population today becoming very familiar with the removal of skin cancer. Despite the knowledge and understanding we now have; the rate of skin cancer continues to grow each year as those over 55 experience the downside of their years spent in the sun.

a lady wearing a towel applying sunscreen on her face

According to Associate Professor Catherine Olsen from the OIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, as more people are living longer and moving into older age groups, sun damage is manifesting on their skin from high UV exposure in their youth.

While the country is only heating over time and the population is growing, it is no surprise that skin cancer is beginning to become a household concern. Click here to read more about the research produced by the institute regarding older Australians and skin cancer. 

Why men need to pay attention…

Australia’s sunny climate has a dark side, with the UV rating being one of the highest in the world for most of the year across the country.

Even the Cancer Council’s own Chief Executive, Ashley Reid, is not immune to the effects of a lifetime spent in the sun without proper sun protection. A typical child of the 1970s, Ashley is now paying the price with one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer, melanoma.

He is far from alone, with national Cancer Council research revealing that men are twice as likely to die from skin cancer than women, in fact, of the 1401 people who succumbed to skin cancer in 2020, 993 of them were men. Thankfully, Mr Reid is no longer in the dark about skin cancer, spending his days advocating for sun protection with accurate research, figures, and data, so he was able to detect his melanoma quickly and have it removed while still in its early stages.

Unfortunately, men who don’t know what to look for or who don’t understand the importance of early action are often the ones that become a number in devastating statistics. 

The good news…

Fortunately, the rate of melanoma is lower than the rate of keratinocyte cancers in the older generation. Otherwise known as basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, keratinocyte cancers are highly treatable and less life-threatening than melanoma. Professor Olsen and her colleagues conducted a study that estimated around 69% of Australians would have at least one excision of a keratinocyte cancer in their lifetime. 

Although this type of cancer tends to grow slower than melanoma, it is still important to remove them as soon as you can. These types of cancers kill around 500 people every year, and if they are not treated properly, they can burrow into the face and make their way into the brain, forcing the patient to endure invasive surgery and radiation to eliminate the risk.

While the rate of keratinocyte cancers is declining in young people after a lifetime of exposure to sun safety campaigns, they only continue to increase in the older generation. 

It is never too late to start using sun protection.

Whether you were a child of the 60s spending your days outside playing until the streetlights came on, or you look back at a life spent working hard in the outdoors with no modern luxuries, you can improve your skin's relationship with the sun right away.

Even people in their 40s and older who use sun protection every day can significantly reduce their risk of skin cancer and lower their chance of developing it again if they’re predisposed. Even if you’ve never touched sunscreen in your life, it is never too late to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide. 

Worried about your skin? It’s not too late…

If you’re reading this and having flashbacks of a youth spent cooking away in the sun, you’re not alone and we’re not here to judge. We understand that the research simply wasn’t around until a couple of decades ago and as a result, we have seen all kinds of skin damage walk through our doors.

It wouldn’t be a shock to see the rate of skin cancer increase in the next 10 years as baby boomers and even generation X begin to experience the result of a youth spent on the sunny side. 

The positive news is that the high UV ratings and rates of skin cancer in Australia have birthed a gold standard of care in early diagnostics and treatment. Getting a skin check is now easier than ever.

The Gold Standard in Skin Diagnostics and Treatment

We are equipped now more than ever to not only pick up on your skin cancer early but treat it completely and effectively with quick turnarounds and comprehensive service. Thanks to our wide range of skin clinics across the country, you will have a Sun Doctors team near you who can not only diagnose and treat your skin but give you ultimate certainty and peace of mind as you begin your new sun protection routine. 

To book a skin check with our team, simply click here. If you’d like to chat with one of our team members to book your appointment, raise any concerns or enquire about what to expect in your check-up – simply call us on 13 SKIN (13 75 46). 

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer. It occurs most frequently in sun-exposed regions of the body. Although this skin cancer rarely spreads (metastasizes) to other organs of the body, it can cause the destruction of surrounding tissue. Thus, early detection and treatment are essential.

Most basal cell carcinomas are caused by chronic sun exposure, especially in people with fair skin, light hair and blue, green or grey eyes. In a few instances, there are other contributing factors such as burns, exposure to radiation, arsenical intoxication or chronic dermatitis.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma may have several different appearances on your skin. Some warning signs that may indicate basal cell carcinoma are an open sore, a reddish patch, a growth with an elevated border and a central indentation, a bump or nodule and a scar-like area.

How can you protect yourself?

Because chronic overexposure to sunlight is the leading cause of basal cell carcinoma, sun avoidance, especially during peak sunlight hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., is an important preventative measure to help reduce the risk of developing this skin cancer.

Limit skin exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays by wearing sunglasses, broad-brimmed hats and protective, tightly woven clothing. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated SPF-30+ on all exposed skin, including the lips, even on cloudy days. Reapply sunscreen frequently. Avoid tanning parlours and artificial tanning devices.

Inspect your entire body regularly for any skin changes, especially those already mentioned, and routinely visit your physician for a skin examination.

Treatment Options

After sections of tissue from a biopsy of your skin are assessed under a microscope by a dermatopathologist and determined to be basal cell carcinoma, your doctor will discuss several treatment options. Your doctor’s choice of therapy depends on the size, location and subtype of basal cell carcinoma. Your age and general health are also taken into consideration. The more common treatment options include excisional surgery, cryosurgery (freezing the lesion with liquid nitrogen), topical chemotherapy creams, or photodynamic therapy. Your doctor will help you decide which option is best for you.

doctor checking skin cancer

Don't become a statistic

BCC is the most common form of skin cancer and of all cancers, affecting nearly 100,000 Australians each year. Men are affected more often than women. BCC’s generally tend to occur in older individuals, although they may occur in young adults and even children. People with one BCC have a greater chance of developing others.

Melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer of melanocytes – the cells that produce a dark protective pigment called melanin. Individual lesions may appear as a dark brown, black or multi-coloured growth with irregular borders that can become crusted and bleed.

Melanoma may affect anyone at any age and can occur anywhere on the body. An increased risk of developing this disease is seen in people who have fair skin, light hair and eye colour, a family history of melanoma or who have had melanoma in the past. These tumours can arise in or near a pre-existing mole or may appear without warning. Melanoma may spread to other organs, making it essential to treat this skin cancer early.

Melanoma

How can you protect yourself?

Overexposure to sunlight, especially when it results in sunburn and blistering, is a major cause of melanoma. Thus, an important preventive measure to help reduce the risk of melanoma is sun avoidance, especially during peak sunlight hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Limit skin exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays by wearing sunglasses, broad-brimmed hats and protective, tightly woven clothing. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated SPF-30+ on all exposed skin, including the lips, even on cloudy days. Reapply sunscreen frequently. Avoid tanning parlours and artificial tanning devices.

Inspect your entire body for any skin changes and routinely visit your doctor for a skin examination. Detecting melanoma early can be lifesaving, since this cancer may be curable in its early stages. Any irregularity in an existing or newly developed pigment skin lesion (asymmetry, uneven border, colour variability, diameter of more than 6mm, elevation or bleeding) could be a sign of melanoma and should be examined immediately by a doctor.

People with dark complexions can also develop melanoma, especially on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, under the nails and in the mouth. Therefore, these areas of the body should be examined closely on a regular basis.

Treatment Options

After sections of tissue from a biopsy of your skin are assessed under a microscope by a dermatopathologist and determined to be melanoma, your doctor will discuss several treatment options. Treatment of melanoma is designed according to several variables including location, the extent of spread and aggressiveness of the tumour as well as your general health. Forms of treatment for melanoma include surgical excision, chemotherapy and radiation. Sometimes lymph nodes are removed. Your doctor will help you to better understand these treatment options.

The ABCDEs of Melanoma

When examining moles be sure to think of ABCDE.

AsymmetryOne half does not match the other half
Border irregularityThe edges are notched or ragged
ColourVaried shades of tan, black and brown
DiameterGreater than 6mm actual size
EvolvingThe significant change in size, shape or shade of colour

Don't become a statistic

1 in 2 Australians will develop skin cancer at some point in life, most from exposure to UV radiation. Although melanoma accounts for only 4% of all skin cancers, it is responsible for approximately 70% of all deaths that arise from skin cancers. Melanoma develops on the skin of approximately 10,000 Australians annually, with an estimated 1,100 dying from melanoma every year.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is a major type of cancer that arises from the outer epidermal layer of the skin and mucous membranes and occurs most commonly in areas exposed to the sun. If untreated, squamous cell carcinoma may penetrate and destroy underlying tissue. In a small percentage of cases, this tumour can spread (metastasize) to distant organs and may be fatal.

Chronic sun exposure is the leading cause of squamous cell carcinoma, especially in people with fair skin, light hair and blue, green or grey eyes. Other factors that may contribute to the development of this cancer include burns, scars, exposure to radiation or chemicals, chronic inflammatory conditions and immunosuppression. Although more likely to develop in fair-skinned individuals, squamous cell carcinoma may occur in dark-skinned people, especially at sites of preexisting inflammatory conditions or burns.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma on face

Signs that may indicate the presence of squamous cell carcinoma include scaly red patches, elevated growth with a central depression, wart-like growths, nodules and open sores. All of these types of lesions may develop a crusted surface or bleed.

How can you protect yourself?

Because chronic overexposure to sunlight is the leading cause of squamous cell carcinoma, sun avoidance, especially during the peak sunlight hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., is an important preventive measure to help reduce the risk of developing this skin cancer.

Limit your exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays by wearing sunglasses, broad-brimmed hats and protective, tightly woven clothing. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated SPF 30+ on all exposed skin, including the lips, even on cloudy days. Reapply sunscreen frequently. Avoid tanning parlours and artificial tanning devices.

Inspect your entire body regularly for any skin changes, especially those already mentioned, and routinely visit your doctor for a thorough skin examination.

Treatment Options

After sections of tissue from a biopsy of your skin are assessed under a microscope by a dermatopathologist and determined to be squamous cell carcinoma, your doctor will recommend several treatment options. Your doctor’s recommendations for therapy depending on the size, location and subtype of squamous cell carcinoma. Your age and general health are also taken into consideration.

The more common treatment option is excisional surgery but cryotherapy with liquid nitrogen or even topical creams could be considered for very early lesions. Your doctor will discuss these treatment options with you.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma on lips

Don't become a statistic

SCC is the second most common skin cancer (after basal cell carcinoma), affecting more than 10,000 Australians each year. When completely treated, the cure rate for SCC is greater than 95 per cent. The incidence of developing SCC increases with age and these lesions tend to occur more often in males than females. A person who has had an SCC or even a basal cell carcinoma has an increased risk of developing another, emphasising the need for close follow-up.

Vitamin D is a hormone essential for many functions in the body. The most well known is for bone health. Deficiencies can lead to diseases such as rickets and osteoporosis.

woman in the sun

More recently it has become apparent that people who have low vitamin D levels may be at increased risk of other serious diseases such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes and cancers such as breast, bowel, prostate and lymphoma amongst others.

Studies have shown that those patients diagnosed with melanoma in summer do better than those diagnosed in winter and it has been postulated that this is because the increased vitamin D levels during summer help the body fight cancer.

Vitamin D has been shown to prevent flu in winter to a similar degree to the flu vaccine. Vitamin D has also been shown to be low in children with autism.

The deficiency of vitamin D can lead to localised or generalised bone and muscle pain and should be checked in patients with these symptoms. Muscle weakness leading to a fall is another symptom of vitamin D deficiency, especially in the older population. In association with thin bones due to osteoporosis, this can be deadly.

Sources of Vitamin D

Usually, vitamin D is made in the skin in response to the sun’s UV rays. However, vitamin D deficiency is becoming much more common as the anti-skin cancer message spreads. Sun-screen blocks out the UV rays too well!

Some recommend that the best way to get enough vitamin D is to expose a large part of the body for a very short period (not enough to burn) in the middle of the day. Getting exposure at the end of the day is not sufficient as the UVB rays necessary for vitamin D production do not reach the earth when the sun is lower in the sky.

couple walking on the beach

Additionally, as one gets older, the production of vitamin D in the skin stops, which is why people over the age of 70 are susceptible to vitamin D deficiency and potential bone and other problems.

Very few foods other than cod liver oil have enough vitamin D to supplement one’s diet naturally so vitamin supplementation is recommended. The problem with cod liver oil is that this has a very high level of vitamin A which can be dangerous in high levels (unlike vitamin D).

How much Vitamin D do I need?

To have the best effect, blood vitamin D levels should be right near the top of the normal range (above 80-100 nmol/L). For many years the recommended amount for vitamin D was between 400-1,000 IU/day. Nowadays, it is more appreciated than supplementation of between 2,000 and 5,000 IU may be required.

Unfortunately, in Australia, only 1,000 IU tablets/ capsules are available over the counter at health food stores and chemists. Compounding pharmacies can make up higher doses with a doctor’s prescription. Blood levels should be checked when starting supplements, after three months and then annually.

Vitamin D in children

Some studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is becoming more prevalent in children and adolescents. It may be a good idea to check the blood levels in the younger age group occasionally.

Measuring Vitamin D

Different laboratories use different ranges for vitamin D but most normal ranges are from about 25-140 nmol/L. It’s probably best to aim for a target range of above 80-100 nmol/L, rather than be satisfied with a level in the low end of the normal range.

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