When you won't be a fan of that tan

How to prevent yourself from getting skin cancer

The Types of Skin Cancer and Their Symptoms

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer can grow when the cells that make up our skin are damaged causing them to grow abnormally.

There are three types of skin cancer:
  • Basal cell carcinoma
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Melanoma

Basal Cell Carcinoma

-This is the most common type of skin cancer. This grows slowly over months and years, this may damage nearby tissue and organs if left untreated.

SYMPTOMS:

-Waxy feeling, hard, pale-white to yellow or skin-colored growth that looks like a scar

Squamous cell carcinoma

-Squamous Cell Carcinoma is a less common, but it grows faster.

SYMPTOMS:

-A flat sore with a scaly crust

-A rough, scaly patch on your lip that may evolve to an open sore

-A red sore or rough patch inside your mouth

MELANOMA

Melanoma is the least common cancer, but the most dangerous one. Most skin cancer deaths are from Melanoma.

SYMPTOMS:

-Often melanoma has no symptoms, however it can be associated with changes that relate to ‘ABCDE’ - Asymmetry, irregular Border, uneven Colour, Diameter (usually over 6mm), Evolving (changing and growing).

PREVENTING SKIN CANCER

  • Slip – on some sun-protective clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
  • Slop – on SPF (Sun Protection Factor) 30+ sunscreen. Make sure it is broad spectrum (protects against UVA and UVB rays) and is water resistant. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and reapply every two hours. Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun.
  • Slap – on a broad-brimmed hat that protects your face, head, neck and ears.
  • Seek – shade.
  • Slide on some sunglasses

Treatment

Skin cancers are almost always removed. In more advanced skin cancers, some of the surrounding tissue may also be removed to make sure that all of the cancerous cells have been taken out.

Common skin cancers can be treated with ointments or radiation therapy. They can also be removed with surgery (usually under a local anaesthetic), cryotherapy (using liquid nitrogen to rapidly freeze the cancer off), curettage (scraping) or cautery (burning).

For more detailed information about skin cancer please phone the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20 or talk to your GP.