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How to protect yourself from skin cancer

Cancer Help By Mirror
Photo: Courtesy

How to protect yourself from skin cancer

The sun’s shining, you’re out in the garden, or maybe on holiday. But before soaking up those rays, have you remembered to protect your skin?

What is skin cancer?

There are two types:

Malignant melanoma and non-melanoma. "Non-melanoma skin cancer is the most common form and about 90% of cases are associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun," explains Joanne Upton, skin cancer advanced nurse practitioner at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre. This form of skin cancer is curable if diagnosed early enough.

But malignant melanoma skin cancers can grow very quickly, and can become life-threatening in as little as six weeks. If untreated, they can spread to other parts of the body. Although melanoma is connected to sun exposure, it can also appear on skin not normally exposed to the sun. This can be due to a hereditary form of skin cancer, known as hidden melanomas.

Know your ABCDE

"Survival rates from malignant melanoma skin cancers are closely related to how early cancer is detected," says Dr. Anjali Mahto from Cedars Dermatology . Check your moles once a month, and use a full-length mirror or your partner to help you check your entire body.

"It’s vital you’re aware of what to look out for and, most importantly, get checked by your doctor if you’re worried about anything."

Avoid the BURN!

"The most common cause of melanoma is prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation and sunlight without proper protection," adds Dr Susan Mayou, a dermatologist at Cadogan Cosmetics .

Stay in the shade between 11am and 3pm, cover up and regularly apply sunscreen that’s at least SPF15 and guards against both UVA and UVB rays.

Ask for help

"Always seek medical advice if you have any skin concerns," stresses Dr Almaani. "Your doctor can then refer you to a dermatologist if they’re uncertain."

If you have lots of moles or a personal or family history of melanomas, you might require something called mole mapping, which is a full-body mole analysis. Each mole is photographed and monitored.

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