Skin Cancer Awareness Month
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Ireland. It’s a disease of skin cells and 90% of all cases are caused by UV rays from the sun or sunbeds. Over exposure to UV rays, which leads to tanning, redness and burning, damage our skin cells. Early detection is essential as up to 90% of cases are curable if spotted early.
There are two main groups of skin cancers:
- Non-melanoma skin cancers
- Non-melanoma skin cancers are the most common types and include basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. They’re usually growing in areas of the body exposed to the sun and are more common in older people.
- Melanoma skin cancer
- Melanoma is quite rare but the number of people diagnosed each year is increasing and also affects young people. It is a more serious form of skin cancer but if spotted early it is very treatable. If it isn’t detected early it can metastasise and cause serious issues.
What increases your risk?
Anyone who spends time outside is at risk of skin cancer. People who sunbathe are not the only group who are at risk, but also those who work and play outdoors.
However, there are factors that increase your risk further. These include having:
- Pale or freckled skin that doesn’t tan or burns before tanning
- Naturally red or fair hair
- A history of sunburn
- Ever used a sunbed
- Already had skin cancer
- A close family member who also has or had skin cancer.
What to look out for?
Skin changes can be harmless but if you spot skin cancer early it could save your life. Not all skin cancers look the same and they can appear in a number of ways such as:
- 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
- A new or changing mole
If you’re ever unsure of any imperfections on your skin get it checked by your doctor or call into your local pharmacy and they can direct you further. Self-examination can save your life so it’s imperative that you conduct one at least once a month.
Reducing your risk:
To reduce your risk of skin cancer follow the following guidelines:
- Stay in the shade, especially when the sun is high in the sky (between 10am and 4pm).
- Avoid sunbeds
- Cover up with clothing, including a long-brimmed hat.
- Use broad spectrum sunscreen (available online and instore at Stratus Healthcare: https://bit.ly/2HBCt2K)
- Keep newborns out of the sun
- Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
For more information about skin cancer go to www.cancer.ie and if you have any queries call in store or use our PharmaChat service to get in contact with a qualified pharmacist immediately.