If you think you could be at risk of skin cancer, how can you avoid it?

mole on skin under a magnifying glass to be checked

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer but it is also the most treatable so the first thing to do is not panic, as stress never helped any medical condition.

Melanoma-type skin cancers (affecting the pigment cells) are luckily the least likely kind of skin cancer to be contracted and whilst they account for around 5% of cases, and can be hereditary, these too have a survival rate of around 85%.

So, if you were to be at risk of skin cancer it is far more likely to be a type of cancer called non-melanoma, of which there are two main types, Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) and Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC), both of which are treatable and provided you do so in time, should not cause long term issues.

These types of skin cancer are not considered to be hereditary although there is an increased risk if these diseases have been contracted by your parents. We suspect this is for lifestyle reasons, for example, if your parents indulged in dangerous holiday habits, you would have done so too at the time and may have inherited the habit too!

So, these skin cancers are most susceptible to lifestyle habits and choices and this will include what you do in your spare time and working life.

UV radiation from either sunlight or sunlamps is the most common cause of this type of skin cancer. Its pretty obvious you could increase your risks if you go about with bare skin in the heat of the day (there is a reason why they say “only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”) midday sun or lay out for hours on a sunbed – what is less obvious is that you can get skin cancer simply by having small parts of unprotected skin regularly visible whilst going about your daily tasks. So this could be exposed hands and arms, your neck and face, and exposure can even happen through vehicle windows if you are a passenger or driver. This means lots of jobs and hobbies can increase the risk every day if you don’t take preventative action:

• Covering up, and wearing a hat and sunglasses.
• High factor of protective sun cream. These days this doesn’t mean you’ll have to look all pale and pasty as creams and sprays can be invisible.
• And if you want a tan, use a false one rather than take the risk of sunbeds.

That’s the external risks taken care of. You can also do more to give your body a chance of fighting off an infection the minute it starts to attack your body – the good news is these measures may not only help stave off non melanoma skin cancers, they should help you against all manner of ailments.

So what can you usefully do?
• Try and stay fit – and if possible do so without increasing your exposure to the sun!
• Eat healthy oils, fats, herbs, spices and vegetables.
• Try and reduce less healthy options like red meat, processed foods and commercially baked products, white flour bread and pasta, and of course anything deep fried.

The next thing is to take quick action if you notice any strange blemishes on your skin or changes in the colour, appearance, texture or size of moles, freckles and other blemishes. Speak to your doctor ASAP and get yourself on a waiting list to be checked out.

And whilst you are waiting consider a product like Curaderm BEC5, it’s not cheap but it is safe and easy to apply yourself at home and could just help avoid the need for expensive, invasive and unpleasant medical procedures further down the line.

A Curaderm.net information resource you may wish to share with your own Doctor.