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Skin cancer is the most common form of
cancer in Australia. Skin cancer is a disease of the body’s skin cells
caused mainly by cumulative exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR)
from the sun. Cancer is a group of diseases in which cells are
aggressive (grow and divide without respect to normal limits), invasive
(invade and destroy adjacent tissues), and sometimes metastatic (spread
to other locations in the body).
Skin cancer is normally divided into two categories: melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.
There are two main types of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC): basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). BCC is the most common form of skin cancer. It usually develops as a small, round, raised, red, pale or pearly-coloured spot, and it may become ulcerated like a sore that will not heal. SCC is the second most common form of skin cancer. It normally appears as a thickened red, scaly spot that may later bleed easily or ulcerate. Both types of NMSC mainly develop on areas of the body that are exposed to ultraviolet radiation and are usually able to be treated if detected early.
Melanoma is the least common form of skin cancer, but the most deadly. If left untreated, melanoma can spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma appears as a new or existing spot, freckle or mole that changes in colour, size or shape. A melanoma usually has an irregular or smudgy outline and can be more than one colour. A melanoma can grow over weeks to months, and can appear anywhere on the body, including areas of the body that aren’t exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
Ultraviolet radiation (UVR):
Anyone in Australia can develop skin cancer but risk is increased for people who:
Yes. Anyone can develop skin cancer regardless of whether or not their skin burns. Although people with fair skin are at a greater risk of developing skin cancer, people with tanned skin are also at risk of developing skin cancer if they do not protect their skin when going outdoors.
No. Any form of a tan which has been obtained from exposure to UVR (from natural or artificial sources) increases your chances of premature ageing and developing skin cancer. People with naturally tanned or darker skin have very limited protection to UVR (roughly equivalent to SPF2 sunscreen) and will still need to protect their skin when going outdoors. Fake tanning products do not offer protection against the risk of developing skin cancer. Some fake tanning products do contain sunscreen, but this will at most only offer protection for a few hours after application of the product.
No. Any form of a tan from UVR (whether from the sun or artificial devices such as solaria) will damage your skin and increase your risk of developing skin cancer.
No. Solaria and sunbeds emit UVR and increase your risk of developing skin cancer.
No. UVR, which causes sunburn and skin damage, cannot be felt or seen. It is not related to, or indicated by heat, high temperatures or light, and therefore can be present days when it is not hot and sunny (such as cloudy, hazy or breezy days).
No. You can be harmed by the sun anytime during the day (especially when the UVR is high). In general, the most dangerous times to be out in the sun are 10am – 2pm (or 11am – 3pm during daylight savings), when the UVR level is at its highest.
No. People of all ages need to regularly check their skin for changes as skin cancer does not affect only old people. In fact, melanoma is the most common cancer for the 15-24 year old age group.
It has been estimated that fair skinned people can achieve adequate vitamin D levels in summer by exposing the face, arms and hands or the equivalent area of skin to a few minutes of sunlight on either side of the peak UV periods on most days of the week. In winter, in the southern regions of Australia where UV radiation levels are less intense, maintenance of vitamin D levels may require 2-3 hours of sunlight exposure to the face, arms and hands or equivalent area of skin over a week . It is important to be adequately protected from the sun, whenever the UV Index is 3 or more and particularly during peak UVR times.
*cited from: www.skincancer.gov.au