“I never thought it would happen to me.”
When I asked women what went through their minds after hearing the words ‘it’s skin cancer‘, genuine shock was a common feeling.
It’s understandable. For some reason, skin cancer doesn’t always feel quite as serious as all the other cancers. While feeling our breasts for lumps and booking in pap smears, we put off penciling in skin checks by telling ourselves things like:
Only old people get skin cancer. When Dad got a skin cancer, he just cut it off. It’s no big deal. I never burn, I tan. The sun isn’t as harsh in Europe. My foundation has SPF in it, that’ll do. I don’t have any freckles.
The reality is, skin cancer can happen to you. In fact, Cancer Council statistics show two in three of us will have a type of skin cancer at some point in our lives. And while many skin cancers are treatable when caught early, melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, is the deadliest cancer in young Australians.
If no one in your life has had skin cancer, you might not know what you don’t know.
You need facts. And experiences from people who’ve been there.
That’s why we spoke to 10 women who have experienced different forms of skin cancer, and a dermatologist and skin cancer specialist to explain them in a way that’s easy to understand.
Types of skin cancer.
But first… what is skin cancer?
Sinclair Dermatology‘s Principal Dermatologist Professor Rod Sinclair explained skin cancers occur when skin cells are damaged by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. They fall into two main categories: non-melanoma and melanoma.
Broadly speaking, the majority of skin cancers diagnosed are either: Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC), Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) or Melanoma.