At The Melbourne Sports Medicine Centre we understand that Australia has the highest incidence of Melanoma in the world, so it is not surprising that we emphasise the importance of sun protection and skin checks.
Due to the hole in the ozone layer of the atmosphere over the South pole, the level of UV radiation is much higher here than in the northern hemisphere. It is this UV radiation that causes the mutation in the pigment cell in our skin (the melanocyte) that leads to melanoma.
So we have tried to protect ourselves from the UV radiation with Slip, Slop, Slap, covering up and wearing sunscreens and hats. We have learned to be more careful of the sun in high UV times of the day (between 10am-4pm) and we have introduced "no hat no play" rules in our schools in term 1 and 4.
Unfortunately, while this is starting to reduce the incidence of skin cancers and melanomas in younger age groups, it doesn't help those of us who spent time in the sun especially as kids (or solariums at any time), had sunburns, and those who have a family history of skin cancer.
Luckily most skin cancers are not melanomas and can usually be easily treated. Also most melanomas are of the superficial spreading type, which slowly grow along the dermal epidermal junction for quite a period of time before they thicken and spread.
This highlights the importance of skin checks. We can spot a melanoma in the superficial spreading stage and cut it out before it spreads, then it is almost always cured.
So now that you are starting to expose more of your skin as the weather heads up, please consider having a skin check. It is a quick and painless procedure that could save your life! It also gives you the opportunity to discuss any other skin related queries.
To book an appointment for a skin check with Dr Braham Goldberg, the author of this article, please phone us on 9650 9372 or Brahams rooms directly (co-located at The Melbourne Sports Medicine Centre) on 8102 5888. You can also read more about Braham and his services at www.melbskincosmetic.com.au.