SKIN CANCER – EARLY DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
Another sunny Australian summer is starting and this should be a timely reminder to have your skin checked. It is important to have your skin examined and treated by doctors who are adequately trained and experienced.
Important Skin Cancer Facts
• Australians have the highest incident of skin cancer in the world.
• Skin cancers vary markedly in severity but most are curable if detected and treated early.
• Skin cancer can occur on any area of the skin, including areas not exposed to the sun.
• Malignant melanoma kills more that three Australians per day.
• More than 70 percent of Australians will suffer from cancerous or pre-cancerous lesions at some stage in their lifetime.
• Skin cancer appearance may include superficial red patches, ulcers, ‘pearly’ red nodules, tender scaling lumps or changing irregular moles.
PLEASE REMEMBER THAT EARLY DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT IS CRUCIAL IN CASES OF SKIN CANCER.
Skin Cancer Types
• The most serious skin cancer and if untreated will spread to other parts of the body and cause death. However, the outlook if detected early is good.
• Look for a new spot, or existing spot freckle or mole that changes colour, size and shape.
• Melanoma can be flat or raised and usually has an irregular or smudgy outline. It is often more that one colour.
• Can quickly grow over weeks to months and can appear anywhere on the body.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
• Not as dangerous as melanoma but may spread if left untreated.
• Look for a red, scaly sore or lump that is often tender and which may bleed easily or ulcerate over time.
• Appears mainly on sites exposed to sun, including the head, neck, upper back, arms and legs.
• Rapidly develops over weeks to months.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
• This is the most common and least dangerous type of skin cancer. It accounts for about 90 precent of all skin cancers.
• Look for a small lump or scaling area that is red, pale or pearly in colour. As it grows it may become ulcerated.
• Slow growing and usually found on the head, ears, nose and upper body.
• These are precursors to squamous cell carcinoma.
• Sunspots appear on sun-exposed skin, especially in the over 40 age group.
• Look for flat, red, scaling areas which may sting if scratched, or exposed to the sun.