We’ve all heard the warnings about wearing sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher and seeking shade from the sun as part of a regimen to help prevent skin cancer — but do you know what skin cancer symptoms to look for?
According to the World Health Organization, one in every three cancers diagnosed worldwide is a skin cancer (between two and three million non-melanoma skin cancers and 132,000 melanoma skin cancers); 80-90 per cent of which are caused by UV radiation.
Non-melanoma skin cancers (basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma) are rarely life-threatening, but surgical treatment is often necessary, and can sometimes be disfiguring. These skin cancers typically appear on parts of the body that are commonly exposed to the sun (i.e. the face, ears, forearms and neck). Basal cell carcinoma might appear as a waxy or shiny bump, a pink or red scar/patchy skin, or even a “pimple” that bleeds easily. Squamous cell carcinoma can appear in similar areas of the body as a red lump, a lesion with a scaly surface, open sores or wart-like bumps.
Malignant melanoma isn’t as prevalent as non-melanomas, but is the major cause of death from skin cancer. Watch out for a new or changing mole (i.e. if it changes in size or colour, or even if it develops a halo-like appearance around it), brown spots with dark spots, lesions, or sores that don’t heal.
With May being Skin Cancer Awareness Month, take a look at the video above for a list of often-overlooked skin cancer symptoms to watch out for. The sooner skin cancer is identified and treated, the better your chances — make sure to see a doctor if you are worried about any changes to your skin.