--Skin Cancer

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Apr 23, 2006
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Skin Cancer is the most common type of cancer. Most Skin Cancers arise in sun-exposed areas of skin.


There are several types of Skin Cancer, including basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.

BASAL CELL CARCINOMA (BCC): This is the most common type of Skin Cancer. BCCs begin as very small, shiny, firm, raised growths on the skin (called nodules). They increase in size very slowly, although some may grow as much as half an inch in a year. BCCs may ulcerate or form scabs in the centre. They may also grow flatter and be scar-like. The border of some BCCs may take on a pearly-white appearance. BCCs may bleed and form a scab and then heal and then return again. BCCs rarely spread to other parts of the body, but they usually invade and destroy surrounding tissues, which can be serious if the BCC is near the eye, mouth, bone or brain. It is important therefore to remove BCCs to prevent damage to these underlying structures.

SQUAMOUS CELL CARCINOMA (SCC): SCCs begin as red areas with a scaly, crusted surface that does not heal. SCCs may become somewhat raised and firm as they grow and they may have a wart-like surface. Later SCCs become open sores and grow into the underlying tissue. SCCs usually invade and destroy surrounding tissues and some may spread to other parts of the body and can be fatal. Like basal cell carcinomas, it is important to remove SCCs.

MELANOMAS: can begin as new, small, pigmented skin growths on skin (usually on sun-exposed areas). Approximately half of all cases of melanoma develop from existing pigmented moles. Melanoma can spread quickly (within months) to other parts of the body if not treated.

Risk factors for developing Skin Cancer include:

- Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Artificial sources of UV radiation such as sunlamps and tanning booths can also cause Skin Cancer.

- Living in an area that gets high levels of UV radiation from the sun. The highest rates of Skin Cancer throughout the world are found in South Africa and Australia.

- Skin Cancer can occur in anyone, although the risk is greatest for people who have fair skin that freckles easily.

- People with certain types of moles or who have a family history of dysplastic naevus syndrome are at a higher risk of developing melanoma. People who have had basal or squamous cell carcinomas have a higher risk of developing Skin Cancers again.


- Avoid the sun between 10am and 3pm. UVR levels are highest at this time.

- Try to stay in the shade or under a shady structure. This will reduce the amount of UVR you receive.

- Protect yourself from the sun, even in shady areas, by wearing a shirt (long-sleeved, collared, closely-woven fabric shirt in a dark colour is best), sunscreen (30+ broad spectrum, water-resistant is best), wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses (a close-fitting, wrap around style provides the best protection for your eyes).

Health care

Always consult your Doctor for diagnosis and advice. In no way is this information intended to replace the advice of a medical practitioner.

It is important to check your body regularly for changes in the skin such as a new growth or a sore that doesn't heal. Regular skin self examination can detect Skin Cancer in its early (and easily treated stage) stage. Skin Cancers don't all look the same, as discussed in the Description section of this topic. See your Doctor if you notice a change in the skin that is still there after 2 weeks. Your Doctor should check your skin during routine physical examinations. People who have had Skin Cancer need to have regular skin examinations performed by their Doctor (as well as regular self -examinations.

As approximately half of all cases of melanoma develop from existing pigmented moles, it is important to check your moles.

To assess a mole, follow the Melanoma Checklist. If you can answer "yes" to any of these queries, you should have your skin examined immediately.

1) Is the mole increasing in size? (Either an old mole growing larger or a new mole)

2) Is it more than one centimetre in diameter? (Normal moles are usually smaller than 1cm in diameter)

3) Is the mole's border irregular or jagged? (Normal moles have a smooth, regular border)

4) Has the mole changed colour from brown to black or does the mole have varying shades of black or brown in it? (Normal moles are the same color all over)

5) Does the mole look inflamed? (Malignant moles may have a reddish edge)

6) Is the mole bleeding, oozing or crusted? (Normal moles do not usually discharge)

7) Is the mole painful or itchy? (Normal moles usually do not itch and are pain free).


May 2, 2006
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thanks for that great info Kelly !

i agree a simple thing as wearing a shirt can help. might i add you need to reapply frequently (especially after you've been in the swimming pool/sea, even if it says waterproof) your sunscreen ?

Mar 2, 2006
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Thanks for posting! I'm one who needs to be very careful. Too much tanning and sun abuse when I was younger!


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