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Check your skin

If skin cancer is found early, it can often be successfully treated. It is important to get to know your own skin and check it regularly. Remember to check your whole body:

  • head and neck—including your scalp, ears, face and lips
  • upper body—front, back and sides
  • arms and hands—including your nail beds
  • buttocks and legs—including the soles of your feet, between your toes and your nail beds.

Changes to look for:

  • new moles or moles that increase in size
  • changes in the outline of a mole
  • a mole that becomes rough, scaly or ulcerated
  • moles that itch, tingle, bleed or weep
  • a spot or freckle that becomes raised or develops a lump within it
  • a spot or freckle that changes colour or is varied in colour
  • or spots or freckles that look different from others on your skin.

If you have any concerns about or notice changes on your skin, it is important to have them checked by a doctor.

Tattooed skin is still exposed to ultraviolet radiation (UVR). So if you have a tattoo, check the skin under and around the tattoo carefully. The colour pigments used in the tattooing process can make it harder to detect skin damage and skin cancer.

Find out about the types of skin cancer.

Skin types

Skin cancer doesn't discriminate between fair and dark-skinned people. The evidence proves exposure to UVR damages our skin and causes skin cancer. While skin cancer is less common for people with darker skin, it often gets found at a later, more advanced stage.

Complete the skin cancer risk assessment to find out how your habits may put your skin at risk of sun damage.

There are 6 skin types, each with a different reaction to ultraviolet radiation.

Skin type Reaction to the sun What you need to know
 Skin type 1 Always burns easily, never tans, extremely sun sensitive. You are at greatest risk of developing skin cancer so make sure you protect your skin. You should also check your skin regularly, be aware of any changes and see a doctor if you notice anything.
 Skin type 2 Always burns easily, tans minimally, very sun sensitive.  You are at greatest risk of developing skin cancer so make sure you protect your skin. You should also check your skin regularly, be aware of any changes and see a doctor if you notice anything.
 Skin type 3 Sometimes burns, tans gradually to light brown, minimally sun sensitive. Even though your skin tans, this is still a sign of UV damage which can lead to skin cancer and your skin is vulnerable. Remember that a tan is not a healthy glow. Always protect your skin from the sun whenever the UV Index is 3 and above.
 Skin type 4 Burns minimally, always tans to moderate brown, minimally sun sensitive.  Even though your skin tans, this is still a sign of UV damage which can lead to skin cancer and your skin is vulnerable. Remember that a tan is not a healthy glow. Always protect your skin from the sun whenever the UV Index is 3 and above.
 Skin type 5 Rarely burns, tans well, skin not sensitive to sun.  Even though your skin tans, this is still a sign of UV damage which can lead to skin cancer and your skin is vulnerable. Remember that a tan is not a healthy glow. Always protect your skin from the sun whenever the UV Index is 3 and above.
 Skin type 6 Never burns, deeply pigmented, skin not sensitive to sun. Your skin offers more protection against UV radiation than other skin types, but skin cancers can occur in people with very dark skin. Your eyes are vulnerable to damage from UV radiation so wear a hat and sunglasses and avoid excessive exposure.

Source: Cancer Institute NSW

Licence
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0)
Last updated
10 November 2015
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