The rise in skin cancer

The rise in skin cancerIn ten years the number of cases of skin cancer has grown by 64 % in men and 45 % in women. It is going up on an average of 3.5 % nationally and 5 % locally. According to Dr Robert Burd; an expert Consultant dermatologist based at Leicester Royal infirmary; “Skin cancer unlike other cancers such as Lung cancer-which generally affects older people can and does affect people of all ages, old and young” Dr Burd had just come out of a meeting discussing a patient recently diagnosed with Melanoma type skin cancer- who was only eleven years old. Melanoma- also called malignant melanoma. It is a rare type compared to Basic cell carcinoma and Squamous cell carcinoma which are less serious. However it is still a big worry if not detected at an early stage.

Although it is the least common Skin cancer found, the type is without doubt the deadliest, making up 10% of the disease, yet responsible for a considerable amount of the deaths.

The reason for the high-fatality rate due to Malignant Melanoma is because this type of cancer can spread to other organs in the body quite easily and rapidly- when a cancer spreads it is known as metastasis.

What causes skin cancer?
According to Cancer research UK The main cause of Skin cancer is careless tanning e.g: chronic sun exposure, not covering up or using correct sun cream that leads to sunburn and the use of sunbeds which are a concentrated source of Ultra violet- The British association of dermatologists recommend never using Sunbeds.

Despite all of the public awareness made surrounding skin cancer and its causes, the craze for tanning has not been damagedwhich is more than I can say for the Sunburnt skin of the bronze loving men and women of today-The saddest fact is that most cases can be prevented.

Decreasing your risk of getting Skin cancer
Although sometimes Skin cancer is caused by genetic factors, diet and a number of other reasons such as chronic illnesses mostly the disease is caused by UV exposure. The way you can seriously reduce your risk of getting Skin cancer would be:

• Avoiding the sun at its hottest- which according to the met office is between 12-3pm
• By covering your skin with the correct factor sun screen- the NHS strongly recommend you make sure you use a sunscreen that blocks UVA and UVB radiation
• Dress sensibly
• Don’t spend too many hours in the sun
• Avoid using sunbeds altogether.

Diagnoses and treatment
Although Skin cancer is becoming such a concern, a relieving factor is that most cases have a high survival rate if caught early, Leicester Royal’s Dr Burd advises any one worried about a mole or skin change to use the ABCD checklist (below) that can also be found on the NHS website;

A stands for asymmetrical - melanomas have two very different halves and are an irregular shape.
B stands for (irregular) border - unlike a normal mole, melanomas have a notched or ragged border.
C stands for (two or more) colours - melanomas will be a mix of two or more colours.
D stands for (large) diameter - unlike most moles, melanomas are larger than 6mm (1/4 inch) in diameter.

These are all aspects of a mole that should be checked if there are any changes.

The process of having a mole checked out is extremely fast with a trusted two week process; Leicester Royal can be even quicker with it being one of the largest running mole clinics in the country.

If, during this process, your Doctor feels it’s necessary, a Biopsy will be carried out. A biopsy is a small operation to remove the mole.

The future
“Life before beauty” is an important factor in preventing skin cancer in the first place, getting to know your body, keeping your eye out, is the second most life-saving tool, getting to your doctor as soon as you notice any change in your skin is the third way to keep some control over skin cancer.

More awareness needs to be made around these risks. The cosmetic industry, Doctors, Sunbed shops and even the Travel industry need to come together to promote Safety in the rays, if this is done fast the only thing that would be on the rise would be the sun- not Skin cancer

Asher-nicole Bourke

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