I very quickly learnt about the warning signs of Melanoma. Being fair skinned, having red hair and blue eyes and spending many sunburnt days out in the sun, I was already aware of the warning signs of melanoma, so would attend half yearly check-ups.
I discovered a dark coloured mole, which was not there 6 months before, and luckily for me it was only at Stage One. This meant a simple removal and increased checkups.
Australia has become the worlds leader in Melanoma victims, a title that’s not something to be excited about, yet it does help to raise awareness of this very real danger and sadly for many, a silent killer.
We are a proud sporting nation, enjoying hours of sun outside, however with increasing damage to our Ozone layer, the harmful UV rays are far more dangerous, requiring increased vigilance.
Many believe a tan is “healthy”. As much as tans make our skin glow, and look amazing, tanned skin is damaged skin.
WHO IS AT RISK?
Everyone is at risk, but more so those who have suffered sunburn in earlier years, those who have had long hours of exposure to the sun, those who use tanning beds and people with fair skin, hair and light coloured eyes.
WARNING SIGNS OF MELANOMA
There is a lot of information readily available to help you check if you have any warning signs of melanoma but early detection is your best prevention.
Melanomas are very sneaky and can appear anywhere. Even under your nails, in between your toes, on the ears and scalp, even internally…absolutely anywhere!
If in doubt, check it out!
– Growing or changing mole on your skin.
– Odd looking mole on your skin or a mole that does not look like any other mole on your skin (the ugly duckling).
Fortunately, these usually stand out.
– Non-uniform mole (has an odd shape, uneven or uncertain border, different colours).
– Sores that don’t heal
If you have any suspicious or odd looking mark on your skin, get it checked by a professional. You cannot take the risk of self diagnosis as only a trained eye and an experienced specialist will be able to check thoroughly for the signs and symptoms of melanoma.
Even someone who has had melanoma like me, yes I’m up to number 3 now and luckily all stage 1, cannot advise you on what is or isn’t skin cancer. I will alert people to what I believe could be a problem but when friends ask what I think, I get straight on the phone and book them an appointment.
It really needs attention straight away, because the longer you wait, the longer it has to do more damage. Sadly Melanoma can be a silent killer, if left unchecked, with deadly symptoms not appearing until it could be too late!
Let’s not talk all doom and gloom. It can so easily be prevented by being vigilant. If you are not considered high risk, a simple, inexpensive annual visit is all you need.
More regular check-ups are required if your doctor feels it’s necessary. The biggest expense is your time, so it’s not much at all when you consider it can save your life.
Apart from seeing your skin specialist regularly, it’s important to follow these steps rigidly:
- Avoid the sun between 10am to 2pm or 11am to 3pm (daylight saving time) This is when the UV rays are at their most dangerous
- Avoid getting sunburnt. This severely increases your risk of skin cancer
- Wear a daily face sunscreen
- Wear 30-50+ Sunscreen whenever exposed to the sun and re-apply after swimming or prolonged exposure.
- Wear suitable, approved SPF protected clothing when swimming
- Avoid lying in the sun
- Wear a hat and protective clothing e.g long sleeves
- Wear sunglasses, yes melanoma can appear in the eyes
- Keep the window up when driving and if possible have solar tinting on car windows
- Stay in shaded areas where possible
- Use tinted moisturisers with SPF rather than tanning
- Avoid tanning oils
If you can feel the sun on your skin, then make sure you’re protected.
When it comes to Melanoma, your future is in your own hands.
Be your own guardian angel and decide today to live for tomorrow!