Why I Should be Concerned about Skin Cancer
Cancer, an ugly term with an uglier connotation, continues to kill and destroy the lives of millions of people every year. Each diagnosis is usually regarded as a death sentence without the trial or jury. Patients will try any and all treatments to rid themselves of the dreaded disease, and if that does not work, at least some of the pain can be alleviated. Cancer is ugly and on the rise. The good news, however, is that cancer awareness is also on the rise. As a result, cancer prevention is on the rise, and many people are detecting cancer earlier, which increases their chances of survival. Health organizations such as the Skin Cancer Clinic in Melbourne are dedicated to helping people treat and prevent one of the deadliest forms of cancer, skin cancer.
Skin Cancer in Australia
Although skin cancer is the third most common cancer in Australia, awareness for the cancer is still limited, and people still do not take it as seriously as they take other cancers. This is unfortunate, especially since two out of three people in Australia will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer. Also, the diagnosis rate for skin cancer in Australia has increased by an estimated 60 percent since 1982. Australians should be concerned about skin cancer and what it can do.
What is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer by definition is the abnormal growth of skin cells that most often develops on skin exposed to the sun. Anyone can be diagnosed with skin cancer, from children to people of all ages, from fair-skinned individuals to ones with darker complexions. Many do not know that they have skin cancer until they experience symptoms. These symptoms include but are not limited to:
- crusty sores that take a long time to heal or don’t heal at all
- small, red, pale, or pearl colored lumps
- new spots, freckles, or moles that change color, size, or shape relatively quickly
- dark brown, black, red, or blue moles that change relatively quickly
Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms should seek a General Practitioner (GP) or skin cancer clinic immediately.
Types of Skin Cancer
Many people are also unaware that there are different kinds of skin cancer. The three primary types of skin cancer are melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.
Melanoma, the most common type and the most deadly, can occur anywhere on the body, even in places that have not been exposed to the sun. It is crucial that this form of skin cancer be detected early to prevent damage to other organs or death.
People who are diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma usually develop symptoms on their neck or face. This cancer is usually limited to the original site and rarely spreads to other organs.
Squamous cell carcinoma, like Melanoma, can spread if left untreated and consists of elevated growths that appear similar to an open sore or wart. This type of skin cancer can occur anywhere, but it occurs most commonly on places exposed to the sun such as the bottom lip.
Causes and Prevention
Skin cancer usually occurs when the individual is frequently exposed to ultraviolet light from the sun or tanning bed but can be caused by other factors. Being exposed to toxic substances or having an immune disease such as HIV or Lupus can also cause skin cancer.
Prevention, however, is plausible. Because 95 to 99 percent of skin cancers in Australia is caused by sun exposure, people should limit their exposure, especially in the middle of the day. Wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, protective clothing, and sunglasses is also helpful in preventing skin cancer. Australians should also avoid tanning beds and be aware of sun desensitizing medications and changes in their skin, especially in moles. These changes should be immediately reported to a GP or skin cancer clinic.
Treatments and Prognosis
There are several treatment options for those diagnosed with skin cancer. Treatments include:
- freezing the cancer cell with liquid nitrogen
- radiation and chemotherapy
Other less invasive treatments may also be utilized. If detected early, skin cancer has one of the best prognoses of all cancers. Ninety-five percent of all skin cancers diagnosed early are successfully treated.
Skin cancer clinics such as the Skin Cancer Clinic Melbourne are vital in saving people’s lives. If people suspect that they may have skin cancer, they must seek professional help. Researching all options available is pivotal to early detection, treatment, and positive prognosis. Help is accessible. Skin cancer can be prevented and is not a death sentence.