Around two thirds of Australian will get skin cancer in their lifetime – the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world due to us having a predominantly pale-skinned population and living in a sunny climate.
Regular burning and sunbaking causes progressive wrinkling (aging) and abnormal growth of cells which may become cancerous. The long term exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays damages the genetic material in our skin and is both cumulative and irreversible.
The sensitivity of your skin to sun damage depends partly upon your colouring. The most sensitive skin is that of an albino who is unable to produce any pigment because of a genetic defect. Next down the scale is the redhead with pale, translucent skin and blue eyes who burns easily and finds it impossible to tan. As a rule blondes or Celts are more affected by solar damage than brunettes and races with deep olive skin which have greater natural protection. Skin cancers are less common among black skinned races.
Skin cancer kills more than 1,000 Australians each year. Melanoma is a deadly skin cancer and if not treated early accounts for 70% of deaths from skin cancer and common skin cancers which have grown too large, or have spread throughout the body, accounts for the remaining 30% of skin cancer deaths.
Early detection and prompt treatment leads to a great chance of cure from skin cancer. If you have fair skin, a large number of moles or a history of skin cancer in the family, regular skin checks are a necessity.
There are three types of skin cancer: