Did you know, Australia has one of the highest rates of melanoma in the world? Melanoma is just one type of skin cancer, but it is potentially the most deadly so early detection is vital. It is the most common cancer in the 20-30 age group in Australia. Most importantly it can be prevented.
This Melanoma Awareness Month, Skin Cancer Physician and GP, Dr Scott McGregor, provides his top 5 things you need to know when it comes to protecting and detecting.
1. Protect your skin in the sun
Yes, the old slip, slop, slap, seek and slide is still the way to go. If you're outside in the middle of the day, be extra cautious, as that is when UV levels are most intense. Be aware that EVERY time you are burnt, your chances of developing melanoma are increased. It’s important to know that when your skin is beginning to turn pink when out in the sun, you’re already sunburnt — so it’s important to take precautions beforehand.
2. Get your skin checked
Get your skin checked annually by a medical professional with experience in this area. Regular skin checks save lives.
3. Learn how to check your own skin
Get to know your own moles by doing a skin check every month, and learn the ABCDE guidelines. If you notice any of the following, be sure to speak to your doctor:
A = Asymmetry - one half is unlike the other.
B = Border - irregular or poorly defined border.
C = Colour - multiple colours and may have differing shades of black or brown.
D = Diameter - any mole > 6 mm or is growing larger.
E = Evolution - any mole that is changing in shape or colour over time.
4. Get to know your partner's skin
Keep an eye on your partner's skin, and let them know if you notice any changes to their moles, and vice versa. You can often see areas of the skin on your partner that they might not necessarily be able to see or you might notice a change that they don’t quite pick up on.
5. If you’re unsure, get checked!
Finally, any mole that just doesn't feel quite right, or any new skin lesion that has been hanging around for a few weeks and that you are uncertain about, get it checked.
Not all melanoma fit the mould and, as Skin Cancer Physicians, we learn to take a patient's worries seriously.