Sure, you hear us go on about protecting your skin a fair bit. And with good reason. As the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure, and that certainly applies here.
While avoiding skin cancer altogether is obviously the preferred option, the reality is that many of us (2 in 3, in fact) will develop a skin cancer by age 70. And outdoor workers like you are at an increased risk compared to general folk. This is why early detection is your next best line of defence (after covering up). As with all cancers (or any health conditions for that matter), the earlier they are found, the better the chance of successful treatment.
What do I look for?
Not all skin cancers look the same. Overall, your best bet is to look for any new or changing spots. That means anything that is changing in size, shape or colour. Something else to watch out for is what’s known as the ‘ugly duckling’ . This means the spot stands out or looks different to those around it.
For more specific information about how a melanoma (the most dangerous type of skin cancer) may look, check out the Early detection page right here on UV Daily.
How do I find it?
If you haven’t checked your skin lately, now is a great time to do it. The cooler weather means your skin might be covered to keep warm, but it also means you’re less likely to incidentally spot something that doesn’t look quite right.
Roughly every three months, or the start of each new season, it’s a good idea to have a good look over your skin. To do this, you will need to find somewhere with good lighting and a mirror, and undress. Try to get into a routine with your technique so you don’t miss anything. You might like to use a handheld mirror to get a better view of areas you can’t see, or ask a partner or friend to check places such as your back or scalp.
What if I find something?
If something seems amiss, head to your GP to get it checked out. They will have a look and let you know whether the spot requires further testing or is no cause for concern.
Can’t I just get a skin clinic to do it?
Good question. It’s a good idea to become familiar with your own skin because skin cancers can grow quickly. While skin clinics provide a valuable service, often people only visit once a year. This means that in theory, you could get the all clear and then not long afterwards have something pop up. And if no-one spots is until the following year, by then it may be too late.
Getting to know your own skin is one easy thing you can do to look after yourself. And it might just save your life.