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5 Things To Consider If You’re Concerned About Skin Cancer

Apr 28, 2017 10:45:00 AM / by Mr. Fuan Chan

If skin cancer is a concern for you and/or your family, there are a number of things you should be aware of. For example, there are a number of lifestyle factors – both current and historic - that can increase your risk of developing skin cancer, which is now one of the most common forms of cancer in Ireland. There are also ‘red flags’ that might indicate you are at a higher risk of the disease. Here, I have outlined some key points to consider so you can keep yourself and your loved ones healthy.


1) Are you in any particular risk categories?

While anyone can develop a skin cancer such as melanomabasal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma, experts agree that there are certain conditions that can increase your chances of being affected by the disease. Your skin tone can be a factor, and those with paler skin tones are more at risk. It’s due to a lack of a pigment called melanin. Melanin not only gives skin its colour, it provides protection from the sun’s UV rays. Pale skin tones have less of this in-built protection and can be more at risk, but it is a misconception about skin cancer to think that only pale skinned people are at risk.

2) Look at your ‘sun care’ history

Sun safety has only really come to the fore relatively recently. Remember those years of people covering their skin in oil to go into the hot sun in the pursuit of a tan? Even in cooler climates like Ireland, there was the occasional hot summer and many people would have had an instance of severe sunburn as a child or teenager. This can actually lead to the development of skin cancer later in life so being aware of changes in your skin today is important, as is protecting your skin and that of loved ones with the proper use and application of SPF.

3) Look at your family’s history

Have members of your family ever had skin cancer? This can increase your own chances of developing the disease and it’s not just your parents. If they, a sibling or a child have had a melanoma (the most serious form of skin cancer) you are in what’s known as a melanoma-prone family. According to the American Skin Cancer Foundation, your chance of developing the disease increases by 50% if you have a first-degree relative diagnosed with melanoma. Again, this information should just encourage you to be more alert to the risks and to be aware of any changes in your skin.

4) Check your skin

One of the most important steps to take is to check your skin regularly. As with all cancer, early detection is vital to help improve the prognosis. Look for any new markings or changes on your skin. If you have moles, check them regularly for changes. Know what is normal for you – and be alert for anything unusual.

5) Danger signs to look for

In short, look for any changes or anything unusual; bumps or rough patches that appear on your skin. Don’t just check obvious areas - make sure to include places like the tops of ears, soles of your feet, etc. Skin cancers don’t just develop on areas that are exposed to the sun.

When it comes to checking moles, just remember the ABCDE rule:

  • Asymmetry –look for moles that are not symmetrical, or have two halves that differ in shape.
  • Border Irregularity – does the mole have a nice, smooth edge, or is it irregular or blurred?
  • Colour Variegation – check for uneven colour, or black, brown or pink colours
  • Diameter - Usually a melanoma is at least 6mm in diameter. If you notice that a mole has changed in size, consult your GP
  • Evolving or extra features – this encompasses any unusual changes like discharge or bleeding.

If you are concerned about your skin or that of a loved one, arrange a consultation with me at my clinic, and, because being sun smart is important in reducing the risk of skin damage from UV rays, download my free guide to sun protection:

Download Mr Chan's Guide to Proper Sunscreen Use

Mr. Fuan Chan

Written by Mr. Fuan Chan

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