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Skin cancer awareness

Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Whether you are lounging around on a beach relaxing with a cocktail in hand (what a dream) or heading out to the park with the kids, it’s essential to be aware of how long you are spending in the sun. May is skin cancer awareness month, and we want to ensure that you know all the signs, symptoms, prevention tips and crucial information when it comes to skin cancer and the suns harmful ways!

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world but did you know if detected early most skin cancers can be cured? There are different types of skin cancer, with the two main types being melanoma and non-melanoma.

Melanoma

According to the British Skin Foundation, melanomas are one of the most dangerous forms of skin cancer. Melanoma starts in the melanocytes, the cells which make the pigment called melanin, which gives our skin, hair and eyes their natural colour and helps protect our body from UV radiation, which is given out from the sun. When we get sunburn from UV radiation, this can cause damage to the DNA in our skin cells, which over time can cause cells to grow out of control and can lead to cancer.

Symptoms of Melanoma skin cancer

If you notice any changes to your skin you should speak to your doctor, but particularly pay attention to any moles which are growing, changing shape, bleeding, causing pain, changing colour, causing redness around the edges or are crusting. It’s best to get into a good routine and check your skin once a month for any changes. The system ABCD provides a guide to some of the things you should look out for:

Asymmetry – the two halves are different in their shape

Border – the edges may be irregular or blurred

Colour – the colour may be uneven with different shades of brown, black and pink

Diameter – most melanomas are at least 6mm in diameter

Speak to your doctor if you have any concerns or questions regarding your skin.

Non-melanoma

Non-melanoma skin cancers are more common and are usually less serious as they are not connected to moles and are less likely to spread across your body. Non-melanoma refers to all other types of skin cancer which are not melanoma and is often caused by overexposure to UV light too. These types of skin cancers are more common in the areas of skin which are most exposed to the sun and tend to appear gradually.

Symptoms of non-melanoma skin cancer

Non-melanoma skin cancers will often appear on skin that is exposed to the sun such as the head, ears, neck, lips and the back of your hands. However, it is important to remember that old scars, ulcers, burns and wounds that have not healed are also risk areas. According to the British Skin Foundation, you should look out for:

  • A lump or discoloured patch on the skin which continues to persist
  • A scab or sore which is not healing
  • A crusty patch of skin which is red or inflamed
  • A flesh coloured bump which grows inside and won’t go away
  • A growth with a rim and central crater

Speak to your doctor if you have any concerns or questions regarding your skin.

Skin cancer awareness

Protect yourself from the sun

Most skin cancers are caused by exposure to UV light, which naturally comes from the sun or can artificially come from tanning beds. There are certain factors which can increase your risk such as those with:

  • Fair skin
  • History of sunburn
  • Moles
  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Family history
  • Weak immune system

Sometimes we can’t avoid spending time out in the sun, but there are many different ways in which you can protect yourself and prevent skin cancer:

  1. Wear sun cream with an SPF of at least 30, even on cloudy days. Look for a product with a four-star UVA protection label.
  2. Wear clothing to protect your skin. Sun cream doesn’t always provide complete protection from UV rays, which is why it’s important to cover up.
  3. Avoid the sun during peak times. The sun is at its strongest between 11am and 3pm, which is when you should spend time in shaded areas to avoid getting sunburnt.
  4. Avoid tanning beds as these can increase your risk of skin cancer.
  5. Reapply sun cream throughout the day, especially if you have been in contact with water or have been sweating.

For more tips on protecting yourself from the sun read our tips!

Protecting yourself from the sun is essential but remember that the sun provides us with vitamin D, which is vital to maintaining healthy bones, teeth and muscles. If you are out in the sun and feel yourself starting to burn or turn red, then cover up with clothing and seek some shade.

Private Health Insurance

Our Private Health Insurance can give you and your family reassurance and can even include the cover for cancer treatment. We have a variety of covers available from our Essentials range to our comprehensive Elite policy. Get your free online quote today!

This content is subject to our Disclaimer.

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