skin cancer &
With thousands of new malignant skin tumours each year in New Zealand, there has never been a more important time to have your skin checked, particularly any changes you have noticed. Any new skin spot or change in an existing mole needs to be assessed. Moles with irregular borders, irregular colours, thickening or bleeding should be seen urgently.
The midst of Summer is usually when we think most about the dangers of developing skin cancer. While it is timely to remind ourselves of the danger of developing skin cancer from the accumulation of Ultraviolet radiation which often reaches extreme levels at this time of year, the danger of sun exposure is not only limited to Summer. Avoiding exposure is the best defense, and this usually means staying out of the sun between 11am and 4pm. The next level of protection is ‘covering-up’, with wide-brimmed hats, and loose fitting, long sleeve, tight-woven clothes or ‘rash-shirts’. Sunscreen containing Zinc or Titanium Dioxide, to provide broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection, should be applied generously and reapplied every 3 - 4 hours, regardless of instructions on the label.
The most common skin cancer types are Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Basal Cell Carcinoma. Potentially the more serious skin cancer is Melanoma which is responsible for around 270 deaths each year in New Zealand.
As with any medical condition, the best defense is early intervention. If you are at all concerned about a change in an existing mole or the appearance of a skin spot, please make an appointment to have it assessed, now! Do not put off having your skin checked.
HOW MUCH SKIN CANCER IS OUT THERE
- 80% of all new cancers diagnosed in NZ per year
- 67,000 non-melanoma cases per year
- 2200 melanoma cases per year
- 4,741 life-years lost from skin cancer in 2006