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Be spot on with your skin

By the time spring 2021 arrives, more than a million Australians will have been diagnosed with skin cancer.

Over 15,000, will be diagnosed with the most dangerous skin cancer of all, melanoma.

Dr Siva Muppala from Restore Medical and Skin Cancer Centre in Grafton is encouraging everyone to be sun safe as the weather warms up and have regular skin checks. Image: contributed

Dr Siva Muppala of the Restore Medical and Skin Cancer Centre in Grafton, said on average 100 patients per month present for skin cancer check-ups with between 40 and 50 skin cancer lesions removed during that period.

He said excessive UV exposure, genetic factors, immune status and age are all common causes of skin cancer, adding people with fair skin, eye and hair colour have a higher risk of being diagnosed.

As the warm weather increases, Dr Muppala is urging all Clarence Valley residents to be sun safe when heading outdoors.

“Protecting yourself from sun damage is important by using suitable clothing and sun screens,” he said.

“Skin cancers are more frequently seen in people aged 40 years and over, but they can occur in teenagers too.”

Dr Muppala said most of the skin cancers seen at Restore Medical and Skin Cancer Centre are basal cell carcinomas and squamous cells carcinomas, which are non-melanoma skin cancers.

However, more serious and life-threatening melanoma lesions are also frequently seen and subsequently removed.

Melanoma is the third most common cancer diagnosed in Australia.

 

According to the Cancer Council, one in 13 men and one in 21 women will be diagnosed with melanoma by the age of 85.

Dr Muppala said the number of people diagnosed with skin cancer each year is increasing.

In 2018, more than 2000 Australians died from skin cancer. 

He is encouraging people to have regular skin checks, adding an early diagnosis is a key component of a successful treatment and recovery.

“Early diagnosis of skin cancers, like diagnosing when they are restricted to the epidermal layer of the skin, helps to prevent complications,” he said, adding the longer a patient waits to seek medical advice, the higher the risk of the spot or skin cancer spreading and worsening.

Symptoms to watch for include any crusty sores that don’t heal, small lumps which are red, pale or pearly in colour and any new spots, freckles or moles which suddenly change in colour, thickness or shape.

Successful early treatment options for skin cancers include cryotherapy, where liquid nitrogen is used to remove the lesion, medical creams or removal of the lesion by excision.

Dr Muppala is encouraging anyone who is concerned about a skin spot or lesion to talk to their local health professional.

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