Skin Cancer… what precautions can we take?

Summer is here and so is the sun. Here to stay, way up high in the sky, all day, every day, for the next six months (at least in Cyprus :-). This translates into a LOT of harmful rays, and we need to take appropriate measures to stay healthy and not burn our skin.

In our quest to always bring you relevant, up to date advice and information, we scoured the web for the latest expert recommendations and found out that, sadly, Europe has a skin cancer problem.

Did you know that skin cancer is the most common cancer?

It doesn’t need to be a growing problem. Skin cancer can be treated if caught early.

Always be sunsafe

Avoid unnecessary exposure

Seek shade where possible, and avoid the summer sun during the middle of the day.

Wear protective clothing 

Include dark colours, long sleeves, a wide-brimmed hat and UV-rated sunglasses. For children, look for clothing with inbuilt sun protection.

Apply sunscreen

Check that yours has a high protection factor against both UVA and UVB rays. Remember that sunscreen takes effect around half an hour after its application and only lasts for two to three hours.

 

Children are at the greatest risk of long-term health issues related to unsafe sun exposure.

Outside play is important, but you should never let a child get sunburnt.

 

WHO IS AT RISK OF SKIN CANCER?

Skin cancer can affect anybody at any age.
It is most common in people over 50, or people who have had prolonged exposure to the sun.

You are at higher risk if you:

  • Have fair skin or are prone to sunburn
  • Were sunburnt during childhood
  • Have spent a lot of time in the sun (for work or leisure)
  • Have periodical exposure periods (e.g. on holidays)
  • Use sunbeds
  • Have more than 50 moles
  • Have a family history of skin cancer
  • Are over the age of 50
  • Have undergone an organ transplant

Whether you’re in a high-risk group or not, there are simple things you can do now to protect you and your family from skin cancer.

By knowing the signs, and checking yourself regularly, you can stop any suspicious skin lesions before they become something more serious.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Check your skin for spots that:

  • Change size, colour and/or shape
  • Appear different to the rest (the ‘Ugly Duckling’ sign)
  • Are asymmetric or have uneven borders
  • Feel rough or scaly (sometimes you can feel lesions before you can see them)
  • Are multi-coloured
  • Are itchy
  • Are bleeding or oozing
  • Look pearly
  • Look like a wound but do not heal
  • If you see two or more of these warning signs, don’t delay. Visit your doctor immediately.

WHAT TO DO NEXT

Skin cancer can be treated, and early diagnosis makes the chances of a full recovery very high.

If you spot a suspicious lesion, it is vital that you have it checked by a doctor or preferably a dermatologist as soon as possible. Where treatment is delayed, the condition worsens, and in some instances, can lead to disfigurement, complications and even death. Don’t let delay reduce your chances of a positive outcome.

The golden rules are:

  • Don’t ignore it, hoping it will go away
  • Don’t wait to see how it develops, or manage it yourself
  • Don’t assume it’s nothing serious
  • Don’t think it isn’t a priority to get it sorted
  • And above all, don’t be afraid to see your doctor or dermatologist

Skin cancer is treatable if it’s caught early.
If you have a spot that looks suspicious, go and see your doctor.

 

Check the following pages for more details on skin cancer and how you can gain knowledge that will help you stay safe:

 

For more information about skin cancer, and how to prevent and detect it, visit www.euromelanoma.org.

Article available in its original form on the Euromelanoma.org webpage.

 

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