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Signs-and-Symptoms-of-Skin-Cancer

Signs and Symptoms of Skin Cancer

This may come as a shock, considering we don’t have the climate of Australia, but the most common form of cancer in Ireland is actually Non-melanoma skin cancer. Skin cancer can be divided into Melanoma and Non-melanoma. Most of these are called Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Basal Cell Carcinoma. Thankfully these can be treated quite successfully.


 

In 2009 there were 7,424 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer and 721 cases of melanoma and over 100 deaths (60% of which were in females). Unfortunately these numbers are rising.

What Causes Skin Cancer?

The main cause of skin cancer is the Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and it may take 20 to 30 years to develop, so protecting our children from excessive sun exposure is essential. No child should ever be allowed to get sun burn, especially with peeling and blistering.

How Can We Protect Ourselves?

  • Try to avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm
  • During this time the sun’s rays are strongest so try to stay in the shade during these times
  • Wear protective clothing
  • Clothing should be dark and tightly woven and cover your arms and legs
  • Also wear a broad-brimmed hat and wraparound sunglasses
  • Always wear sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) 30+ or higher
  • Apply the cream 30 minutes before going out into the sun
  • Apply thickly and evenly every 2 hours no matter how high its protection and even if the bottle may say it will last for 12 hours
  • Make sure you’re protected against both UVA and UVB rays.
  • The sunscreen should have a SPF of 30 or higher for children
  • Always avoid using sun beds – fake tan is safer.

Signs & Symptoms of Skin Cancer

Skin cancers do not all look the same. They can appear as any of the following:

  • A small lump
  • Flat, red spot
  • Firm, red lump
  • A lump or spot that is tender to touch
  • An ulcer that will not heal
  • A lump with a scaly or horny top
  • Rough, scaly patches

Signs of Melanoma

  • A mole that has changed colour, size or shape
  • A mole that is bleeding, oozing or crusting

If there is a lesion on your body that looks different to everything else, then it needs to be urgently looked at. Testing for skin cancer when you have no signs or symptoms is called screening. Unfortunately there is no national screening programme for skin cancer. The best way to screen yourself is to stand in front of the mirror and check your skin from head to toe every couple of months. If you find this difficult to do, as you may have a large number of moles, then visit a doctor who has training in early skin cancer detection.

If you are worried about skin cancer, please go to your doctor as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment can save lives.

Article written by Dr Steve Karagiannis of skincheck.ie for eumom
SkinCheck set up by Australian GP Dr. Steve Karagiannis, is a one-stop shop for adults or children concerned about a mole or a skin lesion. It is based on the Australian model of an easily accessible, affordable and convenient way of having your moles looked at in the community without the need for a GP referral. To find out more visit skincheck.ie  

The information contained on eumom.ie is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis or treatment by a qualified medical professional. If in doubt, always consult your doctor.


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