There are three major types of skin cancer:
  • Basal cell carcinoma is the most common and least dangerous type. It must still be treated quickly to prevent it from spreading. It most often appears on the face and neck, in the form of a small, firm, pink bump, a lesion that heals then reappears or a small, reddish dry patch.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common type, and spreads more quickly than the first. It takes the form of a thick crusty reddish nodule, of bumps on the scalp or it may resemble warts.
  • Malignant melanoma is the least common but most serious. If detected early, it can be cured in over 90% of cases. However, if left untreated, it can spread into the deeper layers of the skin, and extend into the blood or lymph systems, resulting in death. To detect, apply the rule of ABCDE by monitoring any changes to a mole in terms of asymmetry, border, colour, diameter (wider than 6 mm or ¼ inch) and evolution.
Early detection: the key to treating every type of cancer.

The Association of Quebec Dermatologists ruled unanimously in favor of screening for skin cancer, especially melanoma.

Skin cancer screening is performed by a general practitioner or family physician during the periodic examination. It consists of a visual examination of the skin. The physician pays particular attention to the backs of men 50 years and older and the lower limbs of women, since it is in these places that melanomas most often occur.

This screening is particularly indicated for the following:
  • Blonde or red-haired people with blue eyes, or with freckles
  • People who have a personal or family history of melanoma and/or skin carcinom
  • People who have evidence of damage caused by sun exposure or who had sunburns at a young age
  • People who have a large number of moles
  • People who are immunosuppressed (e.g. have had an organ transplant)
  • People who attend, or have attended, tanning salons or have had phototherapy treatment.
You can also examine your skin once a month using this simple, practical tool developed by the Canadian Dermatology Association.

Of course, to prevent skin cancer, you should ideally enjoy the sun only in moderation and with caution. It is recommended that you use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 and above and carefully follow the directions on the product in order to ensure optimal benefit.
 
Sources:
  • Canadian Dermatology Association
  • Capital Santé, vol. 6, No. 8, June 2004, p. 19
  • The College of Family Physicians of Canada. Le cancer de la peau : pour protéger votre peau des effets nuisibles du soleil. 1997

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