Melanoma skin cancer is one of the fastest rising cancers in Canada, increasing significantly among both men and women over the past 25 years.[i] According to the Canadian Cancer Society, Canadians spend more and more time in the sun without proper protection.
In its 2014 Canadian Cancer Statistics report, the Canadian Cancer Society notes that the main risk factor for developing skin cancer is UV radiation from the sun and other sources, such as indoor tanning beds. UV radiation causes about 90% of melanoma cases.[ii]
Intense UV exposure and frequent sunburns (more than five), especially in childhood, can double the risk of developing melanoma. Those with fair skin, red hair or multiple moles are also at increased risk. A family history of melanoma (having a first-degree relative — parent, sibling or child — with melanoma) is associated with a 2- to 4-fold increase in the risk of melanoma.[iii]
What to look for:[iv]
- Any new growth on the skin including: 1) pale or pearly nodules that may grow larger and crust and 2) red or pink patches that are scaly and don't heal;
- New skin markings including moles, blemishes, discolouration or bumps;
- Any change in the shape, colour, size or texture of an existing birthmark or mole;
- Any sore that doesn't heal;
- Any skin lesions which bleed, ooze, swell, itch or are red and bumpy.
The good news is that skin cancer, including melanoma, is one of the most preventable types of cancer. Here are some tips to help protect yourself:
- Avoid the sun at its most intense. Plan outdoor activities before 11 am and after 4 pm, when the sun is not at its strongest, or any time of the day when the UV Index is 3 or less.
- Seek shade.
- Wear protective clothing, broad-brimmed hats and sunglasses.
- Apply sunscreen to all parts of the body that are not covered by clothing.
- Avoid using tanning beds.
For more information on melanoma visit the Canadian Dermatology Association’s website.
[i] "Melanoma: deadliest type of skin cancer is on the rise." Canadian Cancer Society, 28 May 2014. Web. http://www.cancer.ca/en/about-us/for-media/media-releases/national/2014/2014-canadian-cancer-statistics/?region=on#ixzz34GWy5P3K
[iv] "How to check your skin for signs of cancer." CTV News, 28 May 2014. Web. http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/how-to-check-your-skin-for-signs-of-cancer-1.1841540#ixzz331hVkGl1