Month of May is melanoma awareness, but here in Bermuda we need to think about it all year round. Our annual skin checks that both us had in Jan were a reminder of this, Linda has one mole to watch a very small but now being watched with suspicion! Also, she is treating a mole on her nose with cream for precancerous growths, as it’s an area she seriously burnt as a small child. The things we do to protect our skin should be a way of life here in Bermuda.
Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre shows Bermuda has a 12% higher rate of skin cancer compared to the United States. Currently the statistics in Bermuda are not very accurate as cases are mostly treated overseas and doctors here are not required to report diagnoses, so that figure could be higher.
Over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined; and if that isn’t enough, one in five people will develop skin cancer during a lifetime.
There are three main types of skin cancer the most common are non-melanoma skin cancers: Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) most are curable if caught early, the third type is rarer Malignant Melanoma, although less common, has the higher rate of cancer related deaths.
Because each has many different appearances, it is important to know the early warning signs. Look especially for change of any kind. Do not ignore a suspicious spot simply because it does not hurt. Skin cancers may be painless, but dangerous all the same. If you notice one or more of the warning signs, see a doctor right away, preferably one who specializes in diseases of the skin.
• A skin growth that increases in size and appears pearly, translucent, tan, brown, black, or multicolored
• A mole, birthmark, beauty mark, or any brown spot that:
o changes color
o increases in size
o increase in thickness
o changes in texture
o is irregular in outline
o is bigger than 6mm or 1/4″
o appears after age 21
• A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, crust, scab, erode, or bleed
• An open sore that does not heal within three weeks
Don’t overlook it. Don’t delay.