Protect yourself and your family from Skin Cancer
Are you planning your next summer holiday already? How many of us have exposed our skin to an overdose of UV rays last summer? Did you know that just one dose of sunburn can double our lifetime risk of getting melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer?
What is skin and what does it do?
The skin is a protective covering that shields our body from germs. It is filled with white blood cells that are rigged to attack any invading harmful bacteria. As well as protecting the body, skin helps keep our bodies at just the right temperature and allows us to have the sense of touch.
What are Moles?
Moles are small patches on the skin that form due to collections of cells called melanocytes, which produce the colour (pigment) in your skin. Moles are often a brownish colour, although some may be darker or skin-coloured. They can be flat or raised, smooth or rough, and some have hair growing from them. Moles are usually circular or oval with a smooth edge. Moles can change in number and appearance. Some fade away over time, often without you realising. It is important to keep an eye on any moles or freckles you have. If they change at all (for example, if they get bigger or bleed), see your GP, as this can be an early sign of cancer.
The earlier skin cancer is caught, the easier it is to treat.
How does the sun damage our skin?
UV rays penetrate deep into the skin and damage cells. These cells are then at risk of becoming cancerous. Getting sunburnt causes the top layers of skin to release chemicals that make blood vessels swell and leak fluids. Skin turns red and feels hot and painful, and severe sunburn can lead to swelling and blisters. After you’ve been sunburnt, the skin peels to get rid of damaged cells. Eventually, it will heal and look healthy, but permanent damage may have been done.
SKIN CANCER is one of the most common cancers in the world. Non-melanoma skin cancer refers to a group of cancers that slowly develop in the upper layers of the skin.
Melanoma is a rare and serious type of cancer that begins in the skin and can spread to other organs in the body. Melanoma is now the fifth most common cancer in the UK and more than 2000 people die from the disease each year. Statistics show that the number of people diagnosed with melanoma is five times higher than it was in 1970. The rise in popularity of sunbeds and cheap package holidays may be responsible for this increase
How to spot skin cancer early?
Finding skin cancer early saves lives, so it’s important to know the signs and see your doctor about any unusual or persistent changes to your skin.
It’s generally a good idea to be aware of how your skin normally looks so you’ll be more likely to notice changes that could be signs of skin cancer. If you spot a change such as a new mole, or any moles, freckles or patches of normal skin that suddenly change in size, shape or colour, it’s worth getting it checked out by a doctor, even if you don’t think it’s anything to worry about. It may well not be skin cancer, but if it is, getting it diagnosed and treated early could save your life.
The ABCD (Asymmetry, Border, Colour, Diameter) rule can help you remember some key changes to look out for.
- Asymmetry The two halves of the mole does not look the same.
- Border the edges of the mole are irregular, blurred or jagged.
- Colour The colour of the mole is uneven, with more than one shade.
- Diameter The mole is wider than 6mm in diameter (the size of a pencil eraser).
Other signs of skin cancer:
· A new growth or sore that won’t heal,
· A spot, mole or sore that itches or hurts,
· Or a mole or growth that bleeds, crusts or scabs.
If you notice any unusual or persistent changes to your skin, make an appointment to see your doctor.
This is particularly important for people who are at an increased risk of skin cancer, such as those with fair skin, lots of moles or freckles, red or fair hair, and a history of sunburn and/or a personal or family history of skin cancer.
Can diet reduce your risk of skin cancer?
Doctors are discovering more and more that our diet plays a huge part in our health. Here are some tips to reduce your risk of skin cancer:
• Green tea – contains antioxidants, which repair environmental damage on our skin, and some studies even show a link between green tea consumption and improved immune system.
• Fruit and vegetables- provide us with important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to keep our immune systems strong, Anti-oxidants protect against UV damage and free radical damage, reducing your risk of skin cancer. Good examples include, strawberries, blueberries, kiwi fruit, tomatoes and spinach to name a few.
• Oily fish- many scientific studies have identified a link between those who eat healthy fats such as oily fish, salmon, tune, mackerel which a rich in good fats and omega 3 fatty acids demonstrate lower rates of skin cancer.
• Too much fat, processed meats and red meat- studies suggest a link between a diet rich in these unhealthy meats and all sorts of cancers, including skin cancer. Reserve these meats to 1-2 portions per week
• Alcohol – we all know the risks of drinking too much alcohol, but di you know that alcohol increases the risk of burning in the sun and therefore increases your risk of developing skin cancer
Many clinics now offer full body mapping skin cancer checks. At Nuriss we have a skin cancer screening service, run by our lead GP and skin expert, Dr Anita Sturnham. The ATBM FotoFinder body studio scans your body, analyses and photographs your moles in just 3 minutes. Any unusual moles will be measured and analysed further using dermatoscope analysis. Your Doctor will advise you if there are any abnormal moles that need monitoring further or removal for testing, We will help to arrange follow-up with our lead skin cancer dermatologist DR Russell Jones.
Get your moles check today- it could save your life