Sexual & General Health


Skin cancer

A guy sunbathingAs the summer finally arrives, so does SKIN Cancer!

Skin cancer is the second most common cancer in Britain today with more than 80,000 new cases reported each year.

The incidence of skin cancer is rapidly rising in the 18-39 age group. Caught early enough, it is also one of the most curable. Broadly speaking, skin cancer can be divided into two groups: malignant melanoma, which is rare, but the most serious, and non-melanoma skin cancer, which covers the more common and less dangerous basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

Malignant melanoma is potentially life-threatening and can spread to other sites or organs in the body. The non-melanoma skin cancers are rarely fatal, but still need to be treated as early as possible otherwise they can grow and disfigure. Sunshine is the single most important causative factor for all skin cancers making it essential that everyone, especially babies and young children, are adequately protected against the sun's harmful UV rays by covering up and applying a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 with a four or five star rating. Fair skinned people are the most at risk group of developing malignant melanoma.

The increase in skin cancers in Britain has been linked with the desire to have a tan, with repeat sunburn, fair skin types and genetic factors, such as the number of moles.

Watch out for abnormal skins lesions, especially sores that take more than a few weeks to heal, and for moles which change colour, shape or size or become itchy and bleed. If in doubt, see your doctor.

Mark Castle-Woodhams - July 2008