Growing up near the Gold Coast in the 1970s, I remember watching men and women getting sprayed with tanning oil on the beaches at Surfers Paradise. They were already incredibly brown and were just obviously looking to deepen that tan even further. Then, when I was at primary school in the 80s, the ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’ campaign hit the media in a big way and the focus shifted from tanning oil to SPF.
The reason for this shift was the alarming rate of skin cancers being diagnosed in Queensland. In fact, Queensland is the melanoma capital of the world, not much of a claim to fame is it? What is even more alarming is that these rates are back on the increase again.
[Image courtesy of Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos.net]
In response to this, the same mascot is back ‘Sid the Seagull’ and this time; The Cancer Council has expanded their ‘Slip (sun-protective clothing), Slop (sunscreen), Slap (hat) message to include Seek shade and Slide on a pair of sunglasses (Australia Standard of course).
By far the best way and most natural way to protect yourself from the unforgiving Aussie sun, is to stay out of it as much as possible, particularly during its peak intensity from 10am to 3pm. While shade is better than standing in direct sunlight, you can still get burnt standing under a tree, so cover your skin as much as possible and keep you hat and sunnies on.
Adults should also have regular skin check-ups about every two years or earlier if you’re concerned about any changes to your skin.
While Australia does have an enviably warm and mild climate, we unfortunately have one of the highest incidences of skin cancer in the world. Every year, GPs see more than one million patients for a skin cancer consultation and these account for approximately 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers in the country.
The three main types of cancer are:
- Melanoma – the most dangerous
- Basal cell carcinoma (non-melanoma skin cancer)
- Squamous cell carcinoma (non-melanoma skin cancer)
With these rates of skin cancers being diagnosed annually, more and more Australians are having to seek treatment, which varies depending on the severity and type of cancer. Make sure that if you are diagnosed from your GP that you ask for a referral to a specialist for your treatment.
It is essential that all cancerous and necessary surrounding tissue is removed in your treatment. Additionally, if your skin cancer is located on a sensitive and/or visible part of your body, like your face, you will want to ensure that your normal skin contours are maintained as much as possible and that scar tissue is minimized. Plastic and reconstructive surgeons, such as Dr Woods have the knowledge and skills to ensure all of these things happen. Check out http://www.drwoods.com.au for more information.
Unfortunately, skin cancer has become a part of Australian life. Prevention is better than cure and early detection is paramount. If you do develop skin cancer, ensure you seek the expertise of specialised doctors to help you with your treatment and recovery.