The sun is back! THE SUN IS BACK! THE SUN IS BLOODY BACK!!! WOOHOO!

I don’t know what season it is where you are while you’re reading this, but here in Australia (where I am) we’re heading into Spring right now, which means a few things:

  1. That seemingly excessively long, cold, wet winter is finally over!
  2. Flowers are back in bloom, looking all purdy and whatnot;
  3. Birds and bees are supposedly out getting freaky (lucky buggers); and,
  4. Summer is just around the corner!

Unfortunately, Australia’s Summer has a dark side: Skin cancer.

F@#k cancer! Skin cancer accounts for more than 2,000 deaths in Australia alone, with 2/3 Australians being diagnosed with skin cancer before they reach 70 years old [1]. It doesn’t have to be this way though.

We here at The Urban MANual want every Man, along with every non-Man, to PLEASE take the time to educate themselves about the basics of skin cancer prevention and identification. To kick things off, I’ve compiled a bit of info here from around the world wide interwebs to help you to give yourself or your loved ones a good going over (giggity) and identify any potential problems early.

Please, if you have any concerns, suspect spots or bothersome blemishes get yourself off to your GP or a skin cancer clinic

What to Look For

There are three main types of skin cancer – melanoma, basal cell carcinoma and squamas cell carcinoma [2]. The table below (adapted from the website of The Cancer Council of Australia) provides more information and images on each of these types of skin cancer.

Melanoma

  • Most deadly form of skin cancer.
  • If left untreated can spread to other parts of the body.
  • Appears as a new spot or an existing spot that changes in colour, size or shape.
  • Can appear on skin not normally exposed to the sun.

Nodular melanoma

Nodular melanoma

  • Grows quickly.
  • Looks different from common melanomas. Raised and even in colour.
  • Many are red or pink and some are brown or black.
  • They are firm to touch and dome-shaped.
  • After a while they begin to bleed and crust.

Basal cell carcinoma

  • Most common, least dangerous form of skin cancer.
  • Red, pale or pearly in colour, appears as a lump or dry, scaly area.
  • May ulcerate or fail to completely heal.
  • Grows slowly, usually on areas that are often exposed to the sun.

Squamous cell carcinoma

  • A thickened, red scaly spot that may bleed easily, crust or ulcerate.
  • Grows over some months, usually on areas often exposed to the sun.
  • More likely to occur in people over 50 years of age.

When checking yourself, or someone else, for skin cancer the basic things that you need to look out for are:

  • New moles.
  • Moles that increases in size.
  • An outline of a mole that becomes notched.
  • A spot that changes colour from brown to black or is varied.
  • A spot that becomes raised or develops a lump within it.
  • The surface of a mole becoming rough, scaly or ulcerated.
  • Moles that itch or tingle.
  • Moles that bleed or weep.
  • Spots that look different from the others.

If you spot any of these issues, go and get it checked out. Pronto!

How to Check Your Skin

How to check your skin in the mirror

Source: http://www.cancer.org.au/preventing-cancer/sun-protection/check-for-signs-of-skin-cancer.html

When you’re checking your body, or someone else’s, it is important that you check the entire body. Don’t just look at the obvious spots like face, arms or neck. Ensure that you have sufficient light to be able to clearly see any spots and have a mirror or second person handy to look more closely at any suspicious spots that you cant easily reach yourself.

When you are checking, follow the Cancer Council’s ABCD of skin checking:

  • Asymmetry – look for spots that lack symmetry. They might look like a “blotch” on your skin;
  • Border – a spreading or irregular edge around the spot can be a sign of cancer;
  • Colour – uneven colouring in the one spot is bad juju. Spots with a mix should be checked; and,
  • Diameter – if any spots are getting bigger – get them checked!

So, What if You Find Something?

If you find ANY spots that are suspicious, you’re not comfortable with or that meet hte criteria above then please, please, PLEASE take yourself off to your GP or a skin cancer clinic to get them properly checked. This isn’t something to be taken lightly: this can save your life.

References

  1. http://www.sunsmart.com.au/about/skin-cancer-facts-stats
  2. http://www.cancer.org.au/preventing-cancer/sun-protection/check-for-signs-of-skin-cancer.html