People with paler skins present a higher risk of developing skin cancer as they are more vulnerable to damage from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Exposure to sunlight is often a major factor in the development of skin cancer
It’s well known that the sun’s UV index is strong in Australia, and for Australians who live in Sydney, it is important to keep an eye on your skin. Sun exposure is the cause of around 99% of non-melanoma skin cancers and 95% of melanomas in Australia.
What to look for-the detection of skin cancer
Skin cancer can develop in both sun-exposed or non-exposed areas of your skin. There are a few markers you can look for or use as identifiers for skin cancer checks, commonly known as the ABCDE’s of melanoma.
Asymmetry. Most skin cancer is asymmetrical. If you draw a line through the middle of the lesion, the two halves are different.
Border. Skin cancer borders tend to be uneven and may have scalloped or notched edges, while common moles tend to have a more regular, smooth edge.
Colour. Multiple colours on a mole or lesion are a warning sign. General moles are usually a single shade of brown, but one that’s developed into a skin cancer may have different shades of tan, brown or black.
Diameter or Dark. While it’s ideal to detect skin cancer when it’s small, it’s a warning sign if a lesion is the size of a pencil eraser (about 6 mm) or larger. Some experts say it is also important to look for skin lesions, no matter what size, that is darker than others. In rare cases, there are amelanotic melanomas which are colorless skin cancers.
Evolving. Any change in size, shape, color, or elevation of a spot on your skin, or any new symptom in it, such as bleeding, itching or crusting, may be a warning sign of the development of skin cancer.
Skin cancers are divided into:
– Melanoma (malignant melanoma). This type of skin cancer develops from melanocytes.
– Non-melanoma. These are about 20 times more common than melanomas. These are divided into:
- Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) – skin cancer which develops from basal cells.
- Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) – skin cancer which develops from keratinocytes.
Screening, Diagnosis, Removal & Biopsy
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the Australia and will affect around 1 in 10 of us.
Our skin cancer services are recommended for all adults:
– with lots of moles or a visually abnormal mole or a new or changing mole,
– with a history of sunburn or sun-bed use,
– who need a second opinion on a mole diagnosis, or
– who need a suspect mole removed and biopsied.