Setting routine could save you from future cancer scares
IT CAN be as simple as forgetting to dab sunscreen on your ear tips or covering your ankles but repeated missteps could mean skin cancer is a reality later in life.
Dr Sudeer Mahadeo said he cuts out skin cancers for between 20 and 30 people on average every week at his Ipswich practice.
He supported revised national sun safety guidelines to include applying sunscreen as part of people's everyday morning routine.
"We see a lot more skin cancers than other places. We get a lot of people living out on the land and farmers who tend to come over this way for treatment,” Dr Mahadeo said.
"I'm not quite sure (why there is such a high rate). Maybe people are not as sun-savvy here, they probably don't put on as much sunscreen as they should be and take things for granted.”
Dr Mahadeo said a lot of sun damage happens in the first 16 years of a person's life and getting into a routine early was crucial.
"When kids become teenagers they tend to think they can take on the world and obviously have less respect for the sun,” he said.
"If you go to beaches you'll see a lot of young people still sun tanning and you'll be shocked.
"My advice to young people would be to pay attention to these sort of things and you'll reap the benefits later on.”
Reapplying a new layer of sunscreen was crucial, as was wearing a wide brim hat, sunglasses, long sleeve shirts and even gloves for people on the road for long stretches every day.
"A lot of our patients are long distance truck drivers,” he said.
"You get skin cancers anywhere; on your ears, in your mouth, even areas that are covered up as well. Lips are an important area that people tend to forget so it's important to get a lip balm that has a good UV factor protection.
"The other places that you need to remember are around the face, around the nose, the top of the ears and the feet, especially around the ankle because they tend to get direct sunlight on them.”
He recommended to get a skin check once a year, or twice if you had had a skin cancer cut out before and to get into a routine of using skin protection, even when you're not planning a day at the beach or at the park.
"Any time you see something that is new or changing (on your skin), go and have a chat with your GP,” he said.
Sun safety facts from West Moreton Health oncologist Dr Ross Cruikshank
Skin cancer affects people with all skin types
Skin cancer can affect you at any age
You need to use sun protection every day, whether it is sunny, cloudy or raining
Fake tanning lotions and spray tans do not protect your skin from UVR because they do not contain sun protection factor (SPR)
Spot the warning signs of melanoma
A - asymmetry (moles or spots that are irregular in shape)
B - border (changes in the border of a mole or spot)
C - colour (blotchy or multi-coloured spots including black and red)
D - diameter (expanding size)
E - evolving (changes in the nature of the lesion)
Squamous cell carcinoma (non-melanoma skin cancer)
Characterised by thick, red scaly spots that look crusty and bleed easily. Most common in adults over 50 years.
Basal cell carcinoma (non-melanoma skin cancer)
Characterised by red, pale or pearly raised lumps that do not heal.