Skin cancer awareness retains its momentum, however, winning the long-term battle means developing a deeper relationship with our skin – beyond sliding on the sunblock and UV preventive clothing.
Why? Because we are all at risk from skin cancers – the three major types being basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma. It doesn’t matter whether you are male or female, fair headed or dark – skin cancer isn’t a problem we simply pick and choose. Nor does it have an age and time preference – it can lie in wait and strike unexpectedly.
“Research affirms that sunburn in young adulthood leads to a greater likelihood of developing skin cancer,” says Bay Plastic Surgery’s cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeon Adam Bialostocki. “A study lead by the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University reported at least five blistering sunburns between the ages of 15 and 20, meant people were 80% more likely to develop melanoma.”
Melanoma is hailed as New Zealand’s deadliest skin cancer – over 300 Kiwis die at the hands of this disease each year. And, it is the most common cancer in young people Down Under.
So,we must look at education beyond sunscreen types. We must inform those around us about ‘how’ their skin damage is actually occurring.
“UVB and UVA light damage our skins cells differently. UVB light damages the surface layers of the skin and causes sunburn,” explains Adam. “UVA penetrates the deeper layers of the skin and causes oxidative stress and production of free radicals which contribute to skin cancer and skin ageing. Both are responsible for melanoma.”
Minimising the risk isn’t just about reducing sun exposure, it’s about targeting the damage earlier for a better outcome, says Adam.
“The danger of skin cancer is that it can spread rapidly to other areas of the body. Abnormal cells from a mole can develop and multiple uncontrollably. So, careful monitoring and correct diagnosis are the best wayto prevent the cancer growing and spreading.”
Regular skin checks from a trained professional to examine all areas of the body – the hidden ones too such as insides of ears, the scalp, behind the ears, fingernails, butt cheeks, backs of legs – should all be prioritised. Coupled with self-checking for any new spots or changing moles. Tuning into UV apps like uv2Day and GlobalU is also an instantaneous way of staying up with sun play.
For further advice and guidance on skin checks and skin cancer information, check in with us at Bay Plastic Surgery.