Sun Safe Tips

The best way to prevent sun damage, aged skin and skin cancer is to spend less time in the sun. You can:

  • Be sun smart
  • Plan to spend less time in the sun and be indoors or under cover when he sun is strongest between 10am and 3pm
  • Seek shade when outdoors
  • Wear protective clothing that covers your arms and legs as well as your body
  • Wear a broad brimmed hat or legionnaire hat that shades your face and neck
  • Wear wrap around sunglasses that meet Australian standards
  • Apply broad spectrum water resistant SPF 30 sunscreen as directed. Sunscreen should not be used to extend the time you spend in the sun

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is predominantly caused by over exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. There are certain skin cancers eg. melanoma, that can occur in areas that dont see the sun. It should also be noted that melanoma is not always a black spot. They can be pink, purple, red and even pale in colour. It is therefore important to see your Doctor for regular skin checks.

HARMLESS/BENIGN

Freckles

  • Freckles are harmless coloured spots that range in size from 1 to 10mm

Seborrhoeic Keratosis

  • By the age of 60, most people have at least one or two
  • They have a very discrete edge and frequently sit up on top of the skin
  • Colour varies from pale skin through to orange to black
  • Size varies from a few millimetres to 2cm
  • Wart like

WARNING SIGNS

Dysplastic Naevi

  • Not skin cancer, but a warning that you may be prone to melanoma
  • Characterised by irregular borders and uneven colour with multiple shades of brown and sometimes pink
  • If changing, may require removal to differentiate from early melanoma

Solar Keratoses

  • Not skin cancer, but a warning you may be prone to developing skin cancer
  • Characterised by red, flattish, scaly areas which may sting if scratched
  • If sunspots change and become lumpy or tender, they may have become a skin cancer

SKIN CANCER

Basil Cell Carcinoma

BCCS are the most common but least dangerous form of skin cancer and the most easily treated. They are a malignant tumour formed in the basal cell layer of the skin. They usually appear as a small, rounded lump with a pearly edge and a few visible blood vessels. Other symptoms include bleeding or a sore which will not heal. Basal Cell Carcinomas occur mainly in exposed areas such as the head and neck, upper trunk and the limbs.

  • Most common skin cancer
  • Appears as a lump or scaling area
  • Red, pale or pearly in colour
  • As it grows, it may become ulcerated like an unhealing sore or one that heals and breaks down again
  • Grows slowly usually on the head, neck and upper torso

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

SCCs arise from the cells above the basal layer of the epidermis. They grow more rapidly than Basal Cell Carcinomas and may become larger over a number of months. SCC’s usually appear as a flat, scaly area which gradually thickens. Bleeding and ulceration may occur and the area could feel tender. SCC’s predominantly occur on the head and neck, hands and forearms, trunk and lower limbs. These cancers may spread (metastasise) to other parts of the body if not treated.

  • Not as dangerous as melanoma but may spread to other parts of the body if not treated
  • A thickened red, scaly spot. Later it may bleed easily or ulcerate
  • Appears on sites most often exposed to the sun
  • Grows over some months and rarely grows rapidly

Melanoma

Melanoma is the rarest yet most dangerous form of skin cancer. It can appear at any age and on any area of the body, not only those exposed to the sun. The first sign of a melanoma is usually a change in a freckle or mole, or the appearance of a new spot on normal skin. There may be a change in the size, shape or colour of a spot and the surface texture may change. Early detection is vital.

  • The most dangerous skin cancer
  • If untreated, cancer cells spread to other parts of the body. If treated early 95 per cent are cured
  • Appears as a new spot or an existing spot, freckle or mole that changes colour, size or shape
  • Usually has an irregular or smudge outline and is more than one colour
  • Grows over weeks to months, anywhere on the body

Melanoma

  • May be a red, pink, black or brown dome shaped, firm raised lump, growing in size
  • After a while, it may bleed or crust
  • May grow quickly, hence early treatment recommended to avoid spreading to other parts of the body
  • Some flat melanoma may develop nodular areas later