Are Australians growing complacent with matters concerning skin health? In a recent national research shows, it shows that we are. We continue to jeopardise our health by ignoring our skin cancer risk and failing to check our skin regularly. The numbers tell all:
- Around 71 percent of us in the last year haven’t had a professional skin check
- Around 39 percent of us never had one done, which puts us at an increased risk of melanoma and other skin cancers
According to the TAL SpotChecker survey:
- Of all Australians, 71% report sun safety being very important
- 26% find it somewhat important
- 3% find it not too important
- Around 20% of all 1,000 respondents weren’t sure how often they should get a professional skin check
Each day, there are over 2,000 individuals here in Australia receiving skin cancer treatment, says Dr. Sally Phillips, TAL general manager of health services. We’re talking about 750,000 people each year. If we just took simple precautions to protect ourselves, this number would be much lower.
Of course, not everyone needs need to have a skin screening annually. But if you are at high risk of skin cancer, you should make a commitment to yourself to get an expert skin check every year to help with early detection — that’s one way to start protecting yourself.
So how do you know you’re at high risk of skin cancer? The answer lies in the type of skin you have and your risk factors.
Different Skin Types and Their Risk Factors
With early detection, skin cancer is nearly 100% treatable. But when skin cancer is left to spread on the skin, it becomes life-threatening.
Some individuals have more of a risk of melanoma because their skin type has a higher sensitivity to UV damage. Those with fair or red hair and light-coloured eyes are at an increased risk when you compare them with individuals with darker eyes and hair.
1. Very fair, pale white skin (often with freckles): These skin types are highly sensitive and tend to burn instead of tan. They’re at the greatest risk of skin cancer
2. Fair white skin: This is also a very sensitive skin type with minimal tanning and burns easily. This type is also at a high risk of skin cancer
3. Light brown skin: Sensitive skin type that does tan but burns moderately. Still at a high risk of skin cancer
4. Moderate brown skin: This skin type is less sensitive and tans easily. It doesn’t burn as much as other skin types and isn’t at a high risk, but it still has some risk
5. Dark brown or dark brown to black (deeply pigmented) skin: Minimal sensitivity here that hardly ever burns, if it does at all. While skin cancer is not as common with this skin type, when it does occur, it’s usually detected at a later stage when it’s more dangerous
For a visual of skin types and their UV sensitivity, tendency to burn, and skin cancer risk, take a look at this Skin Type Chart provided by SunSmart Victoria.
There are also various risk factors that make you more susceptible to skin cancer. These include:
- Sunbed users
- A family history of skin cancer, like melanoma
- Having a major sunburn either recently or in the past
- Having a mole that changes in colour, shape, or size
- Having a mole that historically bleeds or itches
- Spending great lengths of time in the sun; outdoors lifestyle
Over to You: The Importance of Skin Cancer Checks
Have you done some self-checking for your skin? To see if you’re at a higher risk for skin cancer, you can try our risk assessment model readily available on our MoleMap website.
Again, not everyone will need to get a yearly professional skin check, but those who are at high risk should. If you are a high risk to develop skin cancer, book a MoleMap for early detection by an expert dermatologist.
A MoleMap will provide you a spot check, skin check, or a full head-to-toe skin check of any and all moles to check for signs of melanoma and other skin cancer. If spotted, you can begin treatment as soon as possible to increase your chance of survival by almost 100%.