Risk & Prevention

Make sure you look at all parts of your body – including areas like between your toes.
Use mirrors or a partner to check your back. Try taking a photo of your back using your smart phone – this could make self-examination easier. If you find something that ‘stands out’ or catches your attention, get it checked by a Skin Cancer doctor.

Absolutely. The UV Index can be significantly high in winter. Although it is lower the further south you look, Melbourne and Adelaide still fall into the ‘moderate’ category even in winter. The further north you travel, the higher the UV Index. So, your best protection is to ‘slip, slop, slap, slide & seek’ even in winter.

(Courtesy of BOM)

This is the measure of skin cancer-causing Ultra Violet radiation in the atmosphere.

It’s actually not a very precise measurement of how long you can stay in the sun safely. Essentially, if you would normally start to burn (ie. turn pink) in ten minutes without sunscreen, an SPF of 30 will give you 30 times that ‘burn time’. That’s a total of 300 minutes in the sun until you start to turn pink. However, in reality, five hours of burn-free time is unlikely.  We sweat, rub our skin and often don’t put enough sunscreen on in the first place. That’s why the best advice is to reapply your sunscreen every two hours.

SPF is an acroynm that stands for Sun Protection Factor. The rating gives you an idea of the level of protection you’ll receive. The higher numbers mean more protection.

Yes. We hear ‘bad news stories’ about the very rare times when it doesn’t. However, the overwhelming evidence is that sunscreen has contributed hugely to Australia’s very successful fight against skin cancer over the past 40 years. So please use lots of it and apply / reapply your sunscreen regularly.

There are many approaches to this. But the simplest is… S.C.A.N. (Developed by the Skin Cancer College Australasia)

S – Sore?

C – Changing?

A – Abnormal?

N – New?

If the answer to any of these is ‘yes’ (or you are not sure), get it examined by a skin cancer doctor as soon as possible.

There are some clear risks – like having had a previous skin cancer, lots of sunburns or close relatives with melanoma. However, a really good starting point for self-assessing your risk is via the ‘Melanoma Risk Predictor’ and the ‘Keratinocyte Risk Predictor’ (‘Keratinocyte’ is a term for the skin cancers that are not melanoma – ie. Basal Cell Cancer and Squamous Cell Cancer).