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Skin Cancer – protect and detect

At least 2 in 3 Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70. Find out how you can prevent and detect skin cancer.

Summer is a great time to get outdoors – but the Australian sun is harsh.

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. At least 2 in 3 us will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70.

Scott Roediger’s brother Gavin was one of those people

Scott says Gavin, who always had a bit of an outdoors lifestyle, first experienced symptoms while they were at his best friend’s wedding.

“It was meant to be a great time away, but Gav was unwell. He had body aches and pains, tiredness and massive headaches that could not be explained.”

The next weekend the body aches, headaches and pains got worse and Gavin was rushed to hospital for scans. He had a tumour on his brain.

Over the coming days and weeks the doctors discovered that Gavin’s brain tumour had rapidly stemmed from a melanoma.

“It was devastating news,” says Scott.  “My family and I believed Gavin could beat it – and he did battle on courageously. Gav never complained or blamed the world; he just took it on his chin and got up each day to try to live to the best of his ability.”

“There were some extremely bad days when Gav could not walk or really sit up. He would be sick for days at a time. These days were hard.”

Scott says he had been a workaholic, but seeing his brother deal with cancer changed him.

“I now understand that life is not about working for money or a house or stuff that we don’t need – life is about the people around us and spending time with them. You just never know what will be around the corner. In a crazy stressed out world, we need to smile more”, says Scott.

“My brother Gav died at the age of 30 on 12 October 2013.”

Scott shared his story as part of National Skin Cancer Action Week in the hope that it will shock some people into being a little bit smarter about their time in the sun this summer.

"Put on sunscreen and protect yourself when you’re in the sun," he says.

“We need to look after our bodies - It’s the only one we get."

Protect your skin

For best protection, we recommend a combination of sun protection measures:

  • Slip on some sun-protective clothing – that covers as much skin as possible.
  • Slop on broad spectrum, water resistant SPF30+ sunscreen. Put it on 20 minutes before you go outdoors and every two hours afterwards. Sunscreen should never be used to extend the time you spend in the sun.
  • Slap on a hat – that protects your face, head, neck and ears.
  • Seek shade.
  • Slide on some sunglasses – make sure they meet Australian Standards.

Be extra cautious in the middle of the day when UV levels are most intense – you can find out when this is by downloading the new SunSmart app.

Check your skin

The sooner a skin cancer is identified and treated, the better your chance of avoiding surgery or, in the case of a serious melanoma or other skin cancer, potential disfigurement or even death.

It is also a good idea to talk to your doctor about your level of risk and for advice on early detection.

Become familiar with the look of your skin, so you pick up any changes that might suggest a skin cancer.

Look for:

  • any crusty, non-healing sores.
  • small lumps that are red, pale or pearly in colour.
  • new spots, freckles or any moles changing in colour, thickness or shape over a period of weeks to months (especially those dark brown to black, red or blue-black in colour).
  • If you notice any changes consult your doctor. Your doctor may perform a biopsy (remove a small sample of tissue for examination under a microscope) or refer you to a specialist if he/she suspects a skin cancer.

Find out more on Cancer Council Australia’s website.  

Find out more

Find out more about Scott’s story and skin cancer on the Cancer Council Australia website.

References:

Cancer Council Australia. http://www.cancer.org.au

 

 

 

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