We are a predominantly European population living permanently in a tropical area. We are exposed to high levels of ultraviolet light – the highest in the world – and over a lifetime this leads to a very high incidence of skin cancer.
The sun exposure that we got when we were young has a big influence on the development of skin cancers in the middle and later years. The sun damages the skin early, and age slows its repair.
Minimising excessive sun exposure, especially in the young, by avoiding the hottest part of the day when the UV radiation is at its highest, using sunscreens, protective clothing and moisturisers, will minimise damage while providing adequate vitamin D.
Simple skin examination using dermoscopy (special lights and magnification), done regularly during adult life, can detect the change that indicate the first signs of skin cancer. Early detection and treatment are vital. Detailed whole-body examinations are an important tool and should be done at least annually.
Dr Rayner runs regular clinics on Wednesday mornings. These take about 15 to 20 minutes and are fully bulk-billed. Some treatments with cryotherapy (freezing with liquid nitrogen) may be done during the sessions to treat small, early skin cancers.
For more advanced cancers, skin surgery may be required. If this is needed, it usually done in the office, and outside the time of the skin check. More complex cases may require specialist care.
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