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Spotting Melanoma Early Warning Signs of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is a concerning condition that affects individuals worldwide, specially on Australia with one of the highest rates of skin cancer worlwide. Understanding the different types of skin cancer, the risk factors involved, and the common forms it can take is crucial for early detection and effective treatment.

Understanding Skin Cancer

There are various types of skin cancer, with melanoma being one of the most serious. Risk factors for developing skin cancer include exposure to UV radiation, having lighter skin tones, and a history of sunburn. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are among the common forms of this disease.

Types of Skin Cancer

Skin cancer can manifest in different forms, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Each type has distinct characteristics and treatments.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is the most prevalent type of skin cancer, originating from the deepest layers of the skin's outer layer. It typically presents as a red, fleshy nodule or patch on the skin. However, more aggressive forms of BCC may resemble scar tissue, an ill-defined pale to pink patch, or a scaly, crusted area. 

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is a prevalent form of skin cancer, typically affecting older individuals with a history of prolonged sun exposure. It frequently manifests on areas like the forearms, lower legs, and face, commonly among those who spend extended periods outdoors for work or leisure. 

Melanoma

Melanoma, while less common than other types of skin cancer, can be one of the deadliest. Melanoma can occur on any part of the body but typically appears on sun-exposed areas like the arms, legs, and face. However, it's also more likely to occur on areas previously exposed to the sun or sunburn, such as the back, chest, and abdomen, especially if there are existing freckles or moles. 

Skin Cancer Risk Factors

Several factors can increase an individual's risk of developing skin cancer, such as prolonged exposure to the sun, having lighter skin, a family history of the disease, and a weakened immune system.

While dark skin does offer some protection against the sun's ultraviolet rays, it's incorrect to assume that individuals with dark skin tones are completely immune to UV radiation's harmful effects. People with darker skin tones have a lower risk of skin cancer compared to those with fair skin, but UV exposure still increases the risk for everyone, regardless of skin tone.

Common Forms of Skin Cancer

The most common forms of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, which typically develop in areas exposed to the sun. Melanoma, while less common, is more aggressive and can occur anywhere on the skin.

Recognising Melanoma

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can be deadly if not detected early. Learn how to check for the warning signs, understanding how detection and diagnosis are carried out, and being aware of changes in existing moles are crucial steps in spotting melanoma.

Warning Signs of Skin Cancer

Signs and symptoms of melanoma can include changes in the size, shape, or color of moles, the development of new moles, itching or bleeding of moles, and asymmetry or irregular borders of moles.

Detection and Diagnosis

Early detection of melanoma is key to successful treatment. Regular skin self-examinations and prompt consultation with a Skin Cancer doctor for suspicious lesions can aid in timely skin cancer diagnosis.

Existing Mole Changes

Monitoring changes in existing moles, such as growth, colour variations, or irregular borders, is essential in identifying potential signs of melanoma. Visit your doctor is you notice any unusual changes.

Checking Your Skin Regularly

Regularly examining your sun-exposed skin for any abnormalities, focusing on moles and lesions, observing mole growth and changes over time, and using UV protection measures are vital practices in skin cancer prevention.

Examining Moles and Lesions

Self-examination of normal moles and skin lesions involves checking for changes in size, shape, colour, or texture. Any suspicious findings should be promptly addressed by a healthcare provider.

Mole Growth and Changes

Noting any new moles, changes in existing moles, or the appearance of unusual skin growths is important in monitoring skin health. Any concerns should be discussed with a doctor with a special interest in skin cancer.

Consulting a Skin Cancer Doctor

Regular visits to a skin cancer doctor are crucial for the early detection and treatment of skin cancer and removal of cancer cells. Knowing when to seek medical advice, undergoing a scalp and nails examination, and monitoring any changes in freckles or new moles are essential in skin health.

When to Seek Medical Advice

Any concerns regarding skin lesions, unusual moles, or persistent skin changes should prompt an immediate consultation with a healthcare professional to rule out any potential skin cancer development.

Check You Skin Regularly

Examination of the entire body including scalp and nails for any suspicious growths, discolorations, or irregularities is important in detecting skin cancer in less visible areas of the body. The soles of the feet and palms of the hands are often missed in self examination. 

Freckles and New Moles

Changes in freckles or the sudden appearance of new moles should be closely monitored and brought to the attention of a skin cancer specialist for further evaluation to rule out skin cancer.

Preventing Skin Cancer

Prevention plays a key role in reducing the risk of skin cancer. Implementing sun exposure and protection practices, maintaining overall skin health, and scheduling routine skin checks are essential in safeguarding against this disease.

Sun Exposure and Using UV Protection

Limiting sun exposure, using SPF sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, and avoiding tanning beds are effective strategies for reducing the risk of skin cancer caused by UV radiation.

Protecting your skin from UV radiation by wearing sun protection sunscreen, seeking shade, wearing protective clothing, and avoiding peak sun exposure hours can reduce the risk of skin cancer development. Skin exposed to the sun is always at a high risk. Examine your skin for any moles or discolouration and take prompt action.

Maintaining Skin Health

Keeping your skin healthy through proper hydration, a balanced diet rich in antioxidants, and adequate skincare practices can contribute to overall skin wellness and reduce the likelihood of developing skin cancer.

Routine Skin Checks

Scheduling regular skin examinations with a Skin Cancer Clinic, regardless of skin type or history of skin cancer, can aid in the early detection of suspicious lesions and provide timely treatment options to prevent skin cancer progression.

Melanoma Scan has three clinics located in Brisbane's northern suburbs. Our Skin Cancer Doctors are GPs with a special interest in Skin Cancer. Book an appointment online or call 1300 754 600 to discuss options. 

Melanoma Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer Clinic Toombul

9 Parkland Street
Nundah, Qld 4012
Ph: 07 3256 6766

Skin Cancer Clinic Mitchelton

Unit 1, 23 Blackwood Street,
Mitchelton 4053
07 3855 8500

Skin Cancer Clinic Warner

1405 Old North Road,
Warner 4500
07 3106 1340

Book Online

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Call Us at 1 300 754 600