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Make applying sunscreen part of your daily routine over summer to reduce the risk of skin cancer

Don't leave home 'naked'

December 2018

Make applying sunscreen part of your daily routine over summer to reduce the risk of skin cancer

Make applying sunscreen part of your daily routine over summer to reduce the risk of skin cancer

A leading skin cancer specialist at Sydney Local Health District has a key message to share as families and friends gather to enjoy time outdoors in the sun during summer – take action to protect your skin.

Professor of Dermatology Diona Damian wants everyone – men, women and children – to adopt a simple preventative routine every morning before leaving home to help reduce the risk of getting skin cancer, especially on the face.

“We all brush our teeth in the morning. Put a bottle of sunscreen next to the toothpaste in the bathroom. It needs to live there.

“And, at least put the sunscreen on your face. This is an area of your body that receives the most UV each day, and which suffers the most with pre-cancerous sunspots as well as skin cancers.

“It’ll take 10 seconds each morning to put some sunscreen on your face. People with sunspots on their face can see a 30 to 40 per cent reduction in these scaly lesions within a few months of starting this simple routine.

“It needs to become a habit. So that it feels naked to leave home without having sunscreen on,” she said.

It’s best to choose a broad spectrum sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) that will offer protection from both UVA and UVB rays.

“In Australia the UV radiance is so high… so use a high SPF sunscreen. I recommend SPF 50-plus for my patients,” Professor Damian said.

“It’s never too late to reduce the risk of skin cancer,” said.

Professor Damian is a clinical academic at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and an expert in skin cancer prevention and treatment.

“People think it’s all too late and they can’t be bothered. But, whether you’re 18 or 80 you can make a difference to your skin,” Professor Damian said.

Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world.

Skin cancer develops in the skin’s top layer, or epidermis, and the main cause of skin cancer is over-exposure to UV radiation from the sun.

Data from The Cancer Council shows that about two in three Australians will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer before the age of 70.

The Council’s statistics reveal that each year more than 440,000 Australians are treated for skin cancer and more than 2000 die from skin cancer annually.

But, most skin cancers can be cured if they’re diagnosed and treated early.

Other protective measures include wearing:

  • a broad-brimmed hat
  • protective clothing to cover as much of your skin as possible
  • and sunglasses that wrap around the sides of the face to protect both the eyes and the delicate skin around them

And, if possible, stay out of the sun during the middle of the day – between 11am and 3pm during daylight saving – when the UV Index will be highest.

At her clinic at RPA, Professor Damian sees high-risk skin cancer patients, including those with melanoma, which is considered the most serious type of skin cancer as it’s more likely to spread to other parts of the body.

The most common type of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma (BCC), followed by squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) which usually develops on the parts of the body most exposed to the sun.

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