Detect & Survive
Did you know that New Zealand has the highest incident rate of melanoma in the world?
Melanoma is the highest registered cancer amongst men aged 25-44. However, if it is diagnosed early then it is very treatable by surgery, but when it has spread internally the outcome is not good. So it pays to keep ahead of the game.
What is melanoma? Melanoma is an uncontrolled growth of the pigment cells
(melanocytes) in the body. Melanoma usually occurs on parts of the body that have been exposed to ultra violet radiation but it can appear anywhere on the body. It can be a new spot or develop from an existing mole. Sometimes it can be itchy or bleed. The most common place for men is on the back and for
women the lower leg.
Most skin cancers can be prevented by using sun protection Being outdoor workers, you need to be extra careful. The sun’s rays are most harmful from September to April and when the UV index is 3 or higher. The uv2Day free smartphone app is an easy way to monitor this.
SLIP on a long-sleeved, collared shirt, SLOP on plenty of broad spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30, SLAP on a broad-brimmed hat to protect the ears and neck and WRAP on a pair of close fitting sunnies. Seek shade during your breaks wherever possible. Too much sun exposure also causes premature ageing and wrinkles - so think about the damage now and how you might look down the road!
There are many options available with sunscreens now too, so grab a spray-on sunscreen to reach your own neck while on the building site or get a mate to just spray it on. Take a long hard good look at yourself, checking your entire body regularly could save your life.
Use a mirror, or get someone to check difficult-to-see areas, such as your back. Look out for changes or new moles. If you notice some changes or a mole that looks slightly different to the others, get to your doctor and seek advice.
What are the options for full body skin checks? General practitioners (GPs) Some have a special interest in skin cancer – ask your GP if they are trained in dermoscopy – a dermatoscope is a magnifying instrument to examine the skin. You can also arrange to see a skin specialist (Dermatologist) directly without going to your GP. Check out a list of skin check providers at www.melanoma.org.nz/melanoma/skin-check-provider/
Melanoma New Zealand is available to inform and support patients throughout their treatment and beyond. Keep safe and enjoy the summer!