You probably already know that the earlier we can catch skin cancers, the better we are able to treat them. But do you know what role you play in this early detection? It’s quite simple. You just need to be aware of the signs that can point to potential problems and get any changes checked as soon as possible. How well do you know the signs of skin cancer?
SCAN for early detection
The Skin Cancer College Australasia offers a helpful outline to identifying suspect spots with its SCAN guide. We recommend checking your skin in the shower regularly, although for a thorough check you’ll need to lose your clothes and find a partner or family member to help check spots that you can’t reach. Remember, skin cancers can develop in areas that aren’t exposed to the sun such as your palms and soles of your feet, the scalp and even under fingernails and toenails. These are the signs to look out for:
S is for Sore: if the spot is tender, bleeding, itchy or hasn’t healed within six weeks.
C is for Changing: if the spot has changed shape, size, texture or colour.
A is for Abnormal: if the spot looks or feels different to the rest of your freckles and moles.
N is for New: if you see any new spots developing, particularly if you’re over the age of 40.
What you can do to minimise your risk
We’re all at risk of skin cancer, no matter our age or skin type. If you’ve been sunburnt often, have a family history of skin cancer or work or play outside often, you’ll need to be particularly aware of the signs and maintain your regular checks.
Luckily there are many ways we can minimise the risks. Stay in the shade during the heat of the day while the sun is at its strongest. Slip, slop, slap, seek and slide to minimise exposure to UV radiation. Very importantly, pay close attention to your skin and that of your family, and be sure to book periodic skin checks with a doctor.
If you ever notice any of the symptoms of skin cancer, especially changes in the shapes, sizes and colours of moles, book an appointment by free calling The SunDoctors Skin Cancer Clinics on 13SKIN (13 75 46). While two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before they reach 70, with better awareness and care we’ll ideally be able to catch more skin cancers early and minimise the impacts.