02 September 2003

Skirting skin cancer

Is it a simple mole or a deadly cancerous growth? Prevention and early detection are critical, American experts say.

Is it a simple mole or a deadly cancerous growth?

Many South Africans - especially those who have indulged in sun worship at some point in their lives - worry about skin cancer and how to recognise its signs. According to the American Cancer Society, early detection is key, and it is important to note the appearance of new skin growths or changes in those growths. Any suspicious lesions should be examined by a physician.

The ABCD outline
To recognise a melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, the cancer society offers this ABCD outline: A is for asymmetry, when one half of the mole does not match the other half; B is for border irregularity: when the edges are ragged, notched or blurred; C is for colour, when the pigmentation is not uniform; D is for a diameter greater than six millimetres.

Slip! Slop! Slap!
The best way to prevent skin cancer is to avoid intense sun exposure, and the Skin Protection Federation - a coalition of non-profit organisations including the cancer society - has come up with a prevention programme called Slip! Slop! Slap! The effort is aimed mostly at children and their parents, because kids can get up to 80 percent of their lifetime sun exposure by age 18.

The message is slip on a shirt, slop on the sunscreen and slap on a hat, says Dr Martin Weinstock, chairman of the cancer society's Skin Cancer Advisory Group and an associate professor of dermatology at Brown University. We're hoping these behaviours become second nature, like brushing your teeth or putting on a seatbelt. - (HealthDayNews)

Read more:
Sun Centre
Seasons in the sun



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