Shedding the light on the risk of skin cancer

Shedding the light on the risk of skin cancer

Australians are the envy of the world when it comes to our incredible climate, amazing beaches and laid back outdoor lifestyle of leisure, sport and all things fun in the sun. But it comes at a cost for the "Lucky Country", as we have the highest incidence on the planet of skin cancer or melanoma.

Current statistics indicate that 80% of all new cancers diagnosed are skin cancers and 2 in 3 Australians will be diagnosed with melanoma by the age of 70. And this won't change in our lifetime unless we do something about it. 
Doing something about it is all about sun awareness, knowing our own risk factors and making those changes to help keep us and our families sun safe all year round. 

1. Sunburn

Sunny or cloudy, warm or cool those UV rays are beaming down upon us. 
Ultra violet (UV) radiation at excessive levels sets us up to damage our skin cells, and this happens not just on the outside but on the inside as well. Harm to our own DNA or genes through UV rays affects skin growth and can lead to melanoma. 1 in every 8 adults and 1 in 5 kids will be sunburnt on any given Australian summer weekend, come on folks it's time to slip, slop, slap.

slip, slop, slap

2. Tanning

Don't go there! There really is nothing healthy about a tan. Simple put, tanning means you will look older sooner. Your skin will wrinkle, sag, discolour and a tan increases your risk of cancer. Plus, tanning artificially in solariums or in sun beds may put you at even greater risk which is why in 2016, commercial solariums were banned in all states for good.

3. Moles

Most of us have moles and most of these little guys are not a cause for concern, but the more you have the greater the chance of skin cancer. 
Watch for unusual changes in shape and colour and get yourself checked regularly by a dermatologist. Sun exposure can also have an effect and family history also plays a part. 

4. Complexion

Unfair but true, our natural colouring can put us at greater risk of developing skin cancer. Fair skinned, blonde or red hair, blue or green eyes, skin that freckles and burns easily are all contributing factors to increase the likelihood of a problem.

complexion

5. Family History

Whether it's through a shared outdoor lifestyle of fun in the sun or simply a genetic link, 10% of all people who develop skin cancer will have a close family member either a parent or sibling also affected. 

6. Personal History

Someone who has already been treated for a basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma is at an increased risk of developing something more serious later. Though these are regarded as non-melanoma it does increase the likelihood of a serious melanoma occurring later on. 

7. Immune system

Our immune system is like a personal army fighting cancers both of the skin and organs. Any weakness to our system through another illnesses and some medical treatments can put us at greater risk of developing cancer. 

8. Age factors

We often associate skin cancer with older people perhaps having perhaps spent more time out doors. In the past, the sun safe message was not what it is today. It turns out however that this is also the most common form of cancer in girls under 30 and can often run in your family. 

cancer

But......It's not all doom and gloom. We are not suggesting a one way ticket to a dark cave. But we do have to understand the harm that over exposure to the sun's UV rays can have. The Cancer Council with their "slip, slop, slap, seek and slide" campaign,  has for many years, provided us with all the right tools to make sun safe practises part of our daily routine. 

Be aware of your own risk factors and those of your family when it comes to being safe in the Aussie sun.