Each year in Australia almost 1,900 people die from skin cancer; yet skin cancer is a preventable disease and the majority of skin cancers are treatable if detected early.
While prevention is better than cure, having a good awareness of your own skin should help you to detect any suspicious lumps or spots as soon as they develop, at a stage when they can be successfully treated.
There are three main types of skin cancer:
- Basal cell carcinoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma
These are named after the type of cell they start from.Basal cell carcinoma
This is the most common type of skin cancer. It usually occurs on the upper body. These cancers are often red and slightly raised, with a scaly area that can bleed if knocked. They may become ulcerated.Squamous cell carcinoma
This cancer grows over a period of weeks or months and may spread to other parts of the body if not treated promptly. It occurs most often (but not only) on areas exposed to the sun. This can include the head, neck, hands and forearms. This cancer looks like thickened, red, scaly lump.Melanoma
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Each year in Australia, 1,500 people die from this disease and over 11,000 new cases are diagnosed. Melanoma develops over weeks to months. If caught early, it is usually curable. However, if it spreads to other parts of the body, it can be very difficult to treat.
Melanoma appears as a new mole or as an existing spot, freckle or mole that changes colour, size or shape. It usually has an irregular, outline and is often more than one colour.To learn more about your skin and hope toprotect against sunburn and skin cancer go to the Victorian Government Better Health Chanel http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Skin_explained?open
Professor of Dermatology,
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