As we all gear up with excitement for those lazy, hazy days of summer we think about all of the plans, the holiday get togethers, bbqs and the time off of work. The summer rocks. But one thing that often gets pushed to the wayside during this busy time is our health. And with the summer sun glaring down on us in Australia with a far greater blast level, it’s imperative we do what we can to take care of ourselves. We’re talking mole checks, people. I know, I know. They’re the worst. And they’re boring. And who has time to make a doctor’s appointment during the summer crazy? Who’s going to finish that job or take the kids to day camp? Well think of it this way, if you don’t take care of yourself then who’s going to get all that done if you’ve gone and gotten sick? Just because you wouldn’t take an hour out of the day for a checkup. So listen up. November 17-23, 2019 is National Skin Cancer Action Week. So make your appointment and stay healthy for you and the people that matter the most. If you’re still wondering about why it’s such a big deal, take a read to get some background information on skin cancer here in Aus.
The Nitty Gritty
Skin Cancer Australia states, “With two in three Australians diagnosed with skin cancer by age 70, the action week is an important reminder to use sun protection and of the importance of early skin cancer detection for all Australians.
More than 2,000 people in Australia die from skin cancer each year...However, most skin cancers can be prevented by the use of good sun protection.”
Annually, in Australia alone, about 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers are skin cancer and our skin cancer rate is one of the highest in the world. The majority of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun. That means that there are things we can do to protect ourselves. How awesome is that!? We’ll get to that shortly.
What is Skin Cancer?
There are three main types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma. Melanoma is the most dangerous of the lot, but if it’s caught early enough it can be curable. Which is why you need to get your annual check up, at the very least! Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells; skin cells can be damaged then mutated by overexposure to UV radiation, this can be from direct sun exposure from burning or tanning or even by using solariums. These days though, you’d be hard pressed to find a solarium around Australia as it’s illegal to operate one commercially. That being said, sun or solarium, the UV harm is the same. So be smart.
Symptoms of Skin Cancer
It isn’t always easy to track small changes on your body, so get to know your skin well and overtime it’ll be easier to be aware of those changes. More noticeable symptoms of skin cancer are crusty sores that just won’t heal. Kinda gross. So pay attention. Other symptoms that can be harder to detect are moles, spots or freckles that look like they’ve changed in shape, size or colour over weeks or months or small lumps that are pearly, pale or red in colour. Talk to your doctor if you’re unsure, you can also take a look at this handy chart.
What You Can Do to Prevent Skin Cancer
During National Skin Cancer Action Week the awesome folk over at cancer.org.au remind us of the 5 ways we can protect ourselves from the sun: Slip, slop, slap, seek, slide.
Slip on the clothes that’ll keep your skin protected, like a UV protection shirt when you hit the beach. Slop on that sunscreen, SPF30 or higher. Slap on a big ol’ hat, seek refuge in the beautiful, cool shade and slide on your hippest pair of sunnies.
Keep up with your main five, get to know your skin and notice any new marks, moles or changes and set up that appointment with your GP to get the professional up and down.
Look, we know this stuff is heavy and thinking about it sort of spoils the whole, lazy days of summer vibe. But it’s important to be in the know and do what you can to stay healthy so you can live your best life. So hit up your GP with any questions you may have and make that appointment.