Skin Cancer in Australia

Single Post Heading 2 Title

19 April, 2022

Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer Rates & New, Effective Treatments in Australia

Not all skin care and procedures are for appearance, here in Australia, where the sun is harsh and many of us have lighter coloured skin, and childhoods of fun and sun worshipping, skin cancer is a real and present danger.

If there’s one statistic that we as Australians don’t want to lead the world in – but we do – it is our world-beating rate of skin cancer.

Every year in Australia:

  • Skin cancers account for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers
  • The vast majority of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun
  • The rate of skin cancer in Australia is the highest in the world, with skin cancer rates estimated to be two to three times of those in Canada, the US and the UK.

How to Identify Skin Cancer
Obviously, a regular skin check with an accredited dermatologist or skin cancer specialist is your best chance in identifying skin cancer early. Early detection is vital, as it has a high rate of survivability – if it is detected in time.
As a guide, it is a good idea to become familiar with your skin, especially any spots, freckles and moles, so if there are any changes, you will notice – and these observed changes might suggest a skin cancer – but you have hopefully identified it at the earliest stage.

Look Out for the Following Skin Conditions:

  • Crusty, non-healing sores
  • Small lumps that are red, pale or appear “pearly” in colour
  • Any new spots, freckles or moles that change in colour, thickness or shape.

The Good News – A Growing Number of Proven Treatments Now Available
Skin cancers are almost always removed one way or another. In more advanced skin cancers, some of the surrounding tissue may also need to be removed to make ensure that all the cancerous cells have been removed.

The most common treatment to remove skin cancer is surgical. For small areas this is typically done under a local anaesthetic in your doctor’s rooms. Common skin cancers can also be treated with radiotherapy. Skin cancer can also be removed with cryotherapy (using liquid nitrogen to rapidly freeze the cancer), or curettage (scraping the skin cancer off) or cautery (burning).

There are also two relatively new topical treatments that are proving to be successful in appropriate cases, so it’s little wonder that something as non-invasive as a cream is growing in popularity. Going under various brand names, the two topical skin cancer treatments are broadly explained as follows:

Imiquimod Cream
One is called Imiquimod – and this is a type of immunotherapy cream that causes the body’s immune system to destroy cancer cells. Imiquimod is a great alternative to disfiguring surgery, especially when used to treat sunspots and superficial basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) that may appear on your face.

Your doctor will determine if Imiquimod is the correct solution for you and if it is, he or she will explain how to apply the cream and how often. For superficial BCCs, a small amount of the cream is commonly applied directly to the affected area at night, usually five days a week for six weeks.

Within days of starting imiquimod, the treated skin can become red, sore and tender to touch. The skin may also peel and scab over before it gets better, but this process is usually a sign that Imiquimod is working as designed – by triggering your own immune system to eliminate the abnormal cells.

Topical Chemotherapy Cream
A cream called 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) is a type of chemotherapy drug. It is used to treat sunspots and, sometimes more serious conditions, such as Bowen’s disease.

5-FU works best on the face and scalp. Your GP or dermatologist will explain how to apply the cream and how often. Some people use it twice a day for 2–3 weeks. It may need to be used for longer for some skin cancers.

While using the cream, your skin will be far more sensitive to UV radiation, and it is extremely important that you stay out of the sun. But one of the more welcome side effects of using Chemotherapy Cream is the healing process can also peel away years of unsightly sun damage, leaving your skin looking years younger – bonus! But don’t think you can rush to your GP and ask for this cream for aesthetic purposes, it is essentially a topical chemotherapy treatment, so in other words, it is a serious medication.

Slip, Slap, Slop & Slap on Some More
One of the interesting statistics is the rate of skin cancer is declining in younger Australians and it’s no surprise as to why. Those who were lucky enough to grow up in Australia during the highly successful Slip, Slop, Slap sun awareness campaign have fared better than those older Australians who sun-baked regularly for hours, with – if they were lucky –a smidge of zinc on their nose! Enjoy the sun, but take the famous Slip, Slop, Slap precautions, as no amount of frolicking unprotected in our harsh Australian sun is worth skin cancer.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Close Button