Australia has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world and early detection and treatment of skin cancer is a priority for us at Walker Street Doctors.
We advise becoming familiar with your skin so that you are able to detect any new lesions or evolution of pre-existing lesions. We are particularly concerned about sores which fail to heal, small lumps which are red, pale or pearly in colour and moles which change in colour, thickness or shape over weeks and months (especially dark brown, black or blue- black lesions).
If we are concerned about a skin lesion, we will offer a biopsy or removal of the skin lesion. Other treatments such as creams or liquid nitrogen can also be used to treat precancerous lesions. We work closely with dermatologists and Plastic Surgeons in our area if the lesion is large or in a cosmetically sensitive area.
Excessive sun exposure is a contributing factor in most forms of skin cancer, but moderate sun exposure has beneficial effects on health, including the production of Vitamin D in the skin. Vitamin D is essential for creating bone density and musculoskeletal health. A balance is required between excessive sun exposure to avoid skin cancer and enough sun to maintain adequate vitamin D levels.
It is difficult to provide exact guidelines as to a safe amount of sun exposure because Vitamin D production will vary according to age, skin colour, latitude, season and time of day. When the UV index is above 3, a combination of hat, covering clothing, sunscreen and shade is recommended . We also recommend protecting the eyes from UV exposure, by wearing good quality sunglasses from childhood. For people who may be at risk of Vitamin D deficiency it may be more appropriate to consider Vitamin D supplementation rather than sun exposure.