Common Causes of Skin Cancer
The majority of skin cancers in Australia are caused by overexposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and other sources such as solariums. Skin cells often become damaged and cancerous through exposure to strong or consistent UV radiation.
UV radiation is most damaging for skin when it reaches a moderate UV Index level of 3 or higher. High UV Index levels can occur even on cold, cloudy days and usually reach their peak between 10am and 3pm.
People with pale skin have less of the pigment melanin, which can to protect the skin by blocking out some UV rays up to a point. This is why people with darker skin are less likely to get sunburned than those with light skin. Regardless of skin tone or ethnicity, all skin cells can potentially be damaged by the sun and become cancerous.
95% of melanomas are caused by sunburn, yet even when there are no visible signs of burning, skin cells can still be damaged. Sun tanning and the use of solariums expose the skin to dangerous levels of UV radiation and greatly increase your risk of developing skin cancer.
How to Prevent Skin Cancer
Reducing the skin’s exposure to UV radiation can greatly minimise the risk of developing skin cancer. The Cancer Council Australia recommends a combination of measures to protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun:
Slip on a shirt: wear clothing that protects your arms, neck, back, chest, and shoulders when out in the sun.
Slop on sunscreen: SPF30+ to SPF50+ sunscreens provide the best protection.
Slap on a hat: wear hats which protect the back of the neck and the face.
Seek shade: when spending time outside, bring an umbrella or seek shady areas.
Slide on sunglasses: wear sunglasses with UV protection.
Skin cancer can occur on any part of the body, even when you are vigilant about sun protection. Regular skin checks are essential for detecting skin cancer in its early stages.