May is National Skin Cancer/Melanoma Awareness Month. Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer,
with over one million people diagnosed each year! It is also an issue close to my heart as my bother lost is battle against this at the age of 30. Living here in Phuket, with the climate as it is, we should all be aware of the risks of skin
cancer and how they can be prevented.
Fast Facts about Skin Cancer
- Skin cancer and melanoma account for about 50% of all types of cancers diagnosed combined.
- Skin cancer, if we are sensible, is one of the more preventable types of cancer.
- More than 90% of skin cancer is caused by excessive exposure to the sun.
- 1 person dies from skin cancer per hour.
- One or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than double a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life.
Skin Cancer and Melanoma Basics Skin cancer is divided into two categories:
melanoma and non-melanoma. Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Although serious, non-melanomas are much less life threatening and are much easier to treat.
Symptoms of Skin Cancer
- A small lump (spot or mole) is shiny, waxy, pale in colour, and smooth in texture.
- A red lump (spot or mole) that is firm.
- A sore or spot that bleeds or becomes crusty.
- Also look for sores that don’t heal.
- Rough and scaly patches on the skin.
- Flat scaly areas of the skin that are red or brown in colour.
- Any new growth that is suspicious.
- One half of a mole doesn’t match the other half.
- A mole’s edge is ragged or irregular.
- A mole’s colouring varies throughout.
- A mole’s diameter appears larger than a pencil end.
If you suspect that a lump, spot, or mole is suspicious of skin cancer, seek advice from your doctor immediately and get the area looked at. When detected early, it is highly treatable.
- Generously apply sunscreen, with an SPF of at least 30, everywhere that might be exposed to the sun-even on cloudy days.
- Reapply sunscreen every two hours-and immediately after perspiring or swimming.
- Avoid the sun from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m this is always the hottest time of the day. But don’t worry you will still have time to catch the sun it just won’t be so hot and intense.
- Always keeping infants under six months old out of direct sunlight.
- Make sure children are well covered, wearing a brimmed hat and protective clothing.
- Put sunglasses on your children to protect his/ her eyes and eyelids.
- Remember sand can refl ect up to 85% of dangerous rays.
And don’t forget: whatever applies to you, more importantly applies to your children, so respect the dangers of the sun’s rays and act accordingly.