Cansa has launched it’s skin cancer awareness campaign early December and the awareness continues during the month of January.
Did you know that South Africa is the 2nd highest incidence of skin cancer in the world to after Australia and in particular one of the highest incidences of melanoma worldwide?
At least 20 000 South Africans are diagnosed annually with non-melanoma skin cancers, and an approximately 1 500 are diagnosed with melanoma.
It is important to take note of the fact that everyone, regardless of racial or ethnic group, is at risk of getting skin cancer. Although people with darker skins are less susceptible, because their skin contains more natural melanin, that protects against sun damage, everyone is at risk from the harsh African sun.
According to the World Health Organisation, the incidence of both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers has been increasing over the past decades, and WHO estimates that a 10 % decrease in ozone levels will result in an additional 300 000 non-melanoma and 4 500 melanoma skin cancer cases globally.
Lets take a look at the types of skin cancers:
There are two main categories of skin cancer, namely, melanoma and non-melanoma.
Melanoma is less common than other skin cancers, but it is the most dangerous. It is of special importance to note that excessive ultraviolet (UV) radiation received as a child, increases the risk of melanoma later in life. Melanoma is linked with short, sharp bursts of over-exposure, so even one incident of bad sunburn, especially in childhood, can later on in life, trigger damage and develop into a melanoma.
Non-melanoma skin cancers mainly comprise Basal Cell Carcinoma and Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Of these, Basal Cell Carcinoma is the most common and the least dangerous. These cancers are linked to long term exposure to the sun, for example people with professional sports careers or outside occupations. If left untreated, these can lead to disfigurement, or the loss of an eye, nose or ear, so early detection is important.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma is most frequently seen on sun-exposed areas of the body such as the head, neck and back of the hands. Although women frequently get SCC on their lower legs, it is possible to get SCC on any part of the body, including the inside of the mouth, lips and genitals. People who use tanning beds have a much higher risk of getting SCC – they also tend to get SCC earlier in life.
- The sun is only dangerous in summer or on a hot day
- Sunscreen will protect me completely from the harmful effects of the sun’s rays
- One or two cases of sunburn won’t result in skin cancer
- People with darker skins are not at risk for getting skin cancer
How to Lower your Skin Cancer Risk:
- Do a Monthly “Spot the Spot” Check Up:
Always seek medical advice as soon as possible when concerned about a particular spot on your skin. Check your skin carefully every month and ask a family member or friend to examine your back and the top of your head. If you notice any of these warning signs, see a doctor or dermatologist immediately – follow the A B C D E Warning Signs:
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