Helping your employees protect their skin

05.04.16

  • At least two out of three Australians will develop skin cancer by the time they are 70.
  • Most skin cancers can be treated successfully if they are detected early enough, so it’s really important people self-check their skin regularly.
  • The ABCD of skin checking is a useful guideline for people.
  • People who are at high risk of developing skin cancer should also have skin checks with a qualified health professional.

About skin cancer

Many of your employees no doubt love to be outdoors, at the beach or by the pool to beat the summer heat. But too much time in the sun without adequate protection can have consequences. Up to 99% of all skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun, and at least two out of three Australians will develop skin cancer by the time they are 70, with the incidence of skin cancer continuing to rise.

While melanoma is the skin cancer we hear about most often, probably because it is the most dangerous, it is not the only type of skin cancer caused by sun exposure. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) are ‘non-melanoma’ cancers that are actually much more common than melanoma. BCC is the most common, but least dangerous skin cancer, while SCC is the second most common, usually seen in people older than 50 years.

The good news is, most skin cancers can be treated successfully if they are detected early enough, so it’s really important people self-check their skin regularly. Here are some pointers.

Skin check pointers

Get to know how the skin normally looks. Check the whole body, but pay particular attention to the ears, face, neck, shoulders, arms and hands, as these are the areas most often exposed to the sun.

It’s also important to check skin that is not usually exposed to the sun (e.g. soles of the feet and between the fingers) as skin cancers can still develop in these places.

The ABCD of skin checking

The ABCD of skin checking is a useful guideline for people to follow in monitoring their skin for early changes to existing freckles or moles.

A = Asymmetry. Look out for lumps, irregularly shaped spots, or sores that don’t heal.

B = Border. Look out for spots that have an irregular, spreading edge.

C = Colour. Look out for new spots, freckles or moles that have changed colour, thickness or shape.

D = Diameter. Look out for spots that are getting bigger over time.

Skin cancer screening

People who are at high risk of developing skin cancer (e.g. those who work outdoors or who have a family or personal history of skin cancer) should also have a skin check with a qualified health professional every 3-12 months, or as often as their doctor recommends.

Sources:

Cancer Council Australia [Online] Available from: www.cancer.org.au

Sinclair R. Skin checks. Australian Family Physicians. 2012; 41(7): 464-469. Available from: www.racgp.org.au