If you live in any place where it’s frequently sunny, particular in Australia where 150,000 people per year are diagnosed with skin cancer in Australia and two out of three people are expected to be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer by the time they reached aged 70, the diagnosis may not be pleasant, but it shouldn’t be surprising.
Skin cancer is by far the most prevalent form of cancer in the world, and melanoma, (the most serious form of skin cancer) is the third most prevalent form of cancer in Australia
Have a trusted dermatologist at your ready
Besides common sense advice such as avoiding the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when it is most dangerous, applying generous amounts of SPF sunscreen on your exposed neck and other body parts, avoiding sunburns at all cost and limiting exposure at the beach, dermatologists such as the SunDoctors skin check clinics, a nationwide series of skin care doctors in Australia, the dermatologists recommend an annual check-up of your skin by a dermatologist at least once a year, or any you notice a change in the color or texture of moles or other discolorations on your skin.
During your check-up, the dermatologist and his staff will not only take notice of your skin diagnosis now but take photos of moles, so that they have a record of noticeable changes from your previous skincare check-up.
What if my dermatologist diagnoses me with skin cancer?
First, don’t freak out. Listen carefully to what type of skin cancer the dermatologist says you have, and what are his or her recommended next steps.
There are three basic types of skin cancer:
- Squamous Cell Skin Cancer
- Basal Cell Skin Cancer
- Melanoma Skin Cancer
Basal cell skin cancer is the most common type, with 8 out of 10 skin cancer diagnoses being of this type. Basically, the upper layers of your skin are affected, and basal skin cancer rarely spreads. Typically, basal skin cancer is removed with minor surgery.
Squamous cell skin cancer, is deeper down into the skin, but providing it is removed via minor surgery, squamous cell skin cancer is also not generally life threating.
Melanoma skin cancer is the most serious. Although fairly rare, melanoma skin cancer can spread, and depending upon the stages of cancer you are in, surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy will be used. Although every cancer is of concern, melanoma skin cancer does kill several thousand people worldwide each year.
Post skin cancer treatment
No matter which type of skin cancer you have had, maintaining regular contact with your dermatologist is a must. Skin cancer or one type can appear as another type later, and your doctor will want to keep close tabs on any changes in your skin.
Your dermatologist will also be your best friend for consultations for other procedures. For example, many people need reconstructive surgery due to the extensive removal of skin in the initial skin cancer treatment. While most skin cancer treatments remove only a small part of the skin, for those who have had extensive procedures, particularly on the face, may need plastic corrective surgery.
Your doctor will also recommend that you reduce your overall risk of cancer by changing your diet, exercising and eliminating smoking. And of course, your attitude toward exposure to the sun must change.
You will be urged to cover up extensively when out in the sun, use plenty of SPF sunscreen, and placing a strict limit on your personal sunbathing.