Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australia.
In 2011, there were more than 2,000 deaths from melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world.
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is our main source of Vitamin D, but it is also the major cause of skin cancer. Skin can burn in just 15 minutes in the summer sun.
Skin cancer is largely preventable
Be SunSmart. When the UV level is 3 or above, protect yourself against sun damage and skin cancer by following these steps:
1. Slip on clothing
Cover as much skin as possible, such as shirts with long sleeves and high necks/collars. Wear clothing made from close-weave materials such as cotton, polyester/cotton and linen.
When swimming, wear material such as lycra which stays sun-protective when wet.
2. Slop on sunscreen
Sunscreen is only effective if you apply enough to your body, including your face, 30 minutes before heading outdoors. Reapply every two hours outside, and immediately after swimming, towel-drying, or heavy sweating.
It’s best to use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) water-based sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day.
3. Slap on a hat
A broad-brimmed, legionnaire or bucket-style hat provides good protection for the face, nose, neck and ears, which are common sites for skin cancers. Caps and visors do not provide enough protection.
Choose a hat made with closely woven fabric – if you can see through it, UV radiation will get through. Hats may not protect you from reflected UV radiation, so also wear sunglasses and sunscreen.
4. Seek shade
Be UV cautious in the middle of the day when UV levels are most intense. Shade provides good sun protection, but remember that UV rays reflect off surfaces such as sand, water and paving, so use other sun protection measures when in the shade too.
5. Slide on sunglasses
Sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat worn together can reduce UV radiation exposure to the eyes by up to 98%. Sunglasses should be worn outside during daylight hours.
Choose close-fitting, wrap-around sunglasses that meet the Australian Standard AS 1067. Sunglasses are as important for children as they are for adults.
Check your skin regularly and see your doctor if you notice any unusual skin changes. If you have a lesion that doesn’t heal, or a mole that has suddenly appeared, changed in size, thickness, shape, colour or has started to bleed, see your doctor immediately.
Treatment is more likely to be successful if skin cancer is discovered early. Remember, if you have any concerns or questions, please make an appointment with one of our friendly doctors.
Source: Cancer Council Australia
Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.