Skin cancer is completely curable and its treatment is less invasive if diagnosed early. The risk of disfigurement and death is drastically reduced therefore timing of diagnosis and prompt management is crucial. In Australia, out of all the malignancies, skin cancer is the commonest. A regular habit of self-examining for suspicious moles or a routine skin cancer clinic Sydney cbd visit maybe essential if you are living in this area or if you have any risk factors. Risk factors include exposure to UV radiation which is mainly by sunlight but also by tanning booths. Being fair skinned is also a risk factor as they lack melanin, which protects against UV radiation. A family history, smoking, exposure to chemicals like arsenic also can predispose to this type of malignancy.The first step for a skin cancer check on your own is to have proper lighting, a mirror in front of you or a hand held mirror and completely undress yourself. Examine carefully the whole body for spots which includes hidden areas like the back of your knees, palms, soles, and under nails. Commonest area for moles in men is the back and in women it is the legs.
It is better to get help from a family member to check your back and scalp. If new moles are noticed, take photos of them, so you can trace its change over time.There are three main types of skin cancers. First, Basal cell carcinoma, commonest one out of the three, which usually occurs in fair skinned people, looks like a pink or flesh coloured patch which if left untreated can spread to surrounding tissues including bone, nerves and muscles leading to disfigurement. Second, squamous cell carcinoma which looks like a red firm bump that can be scaly or painful as it heals and re-opens. The deadliest form of malignancy is melanoma which develops in an existing mole or develops as a new dark spot.
Identify any abnormal spots. You can use the help of the internet to browse images but the ‘ABCDE melanoma detection guide’ is a good approach for self-examination. Notice if there are any ‘Asymmetrical’ spots, or spots with irregular ‘Borders’, or with a mix of ‘Colours’ varying from black, blue, red, white and grey, or have an increasing ‘Diameter’, or that are ‘Evolving’. Any change in colour, elevation, shape, or associated with itching, bleeding and crusting is an evolving spot.Melanomas are deadly and non-curable in latter stages, and the others are usually treatable but they can recur, so if you have had a past history, then follow up with your dermatologist to identify a recurrence early. For more information, please click here.