Sun safety isn’t just for summer
By Sarah Vallance
There’s nothing better than getting out on the bike for a cycle in the sunshine. Early risers will know that a pre-dawn ride has the benefits of being less congested, cooler in temperature and lowering your skin cancer risk, but for carnivals and big events, it’s important to remember your sun safety steps.
Since the ‘slip, slop, slap’ campaign launched in the early 80s, most of us would be well aware of the steps we need to take to limit sun exposure and prevent skin cancer. With the cooler months upon us, many people may be lured into the trap of thinking that the threat is reduced but Queenslanders have no such luck. Here, the UV Index reaches 3 or higher in the middle of the day all year, meaning you should definitely still be slip, slop, slapping even when the mercury is falling.
Unfortunately, even if all preventative measures are taken, many people will continue to be at risk of developing skin cancer during their lifetime. The Cancer Council reports that two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70.
However if skin cancer is identified and treated at an early stage, the treatment is often less invasive and highly successful. The Melanoma Institute reports that 90% of people are able to be cured by having the primary lesion (spot) surgically removed.
No matter what your daily level of sun exposure is, you should:
- Always take preventative measures to protect your skin. Wear broad spectrum sunscreen (and reapply regularly), cover up with a hat, sunnies and a shirt, and where possible stay out of the sun when the UV rays are strongest. Try stashing a mini-bottle of sunscreen on you or on the bike so you can reapply easily on any long rides
- Familiarise yourself with the signs of skin cancer and what you should look out for – particularly freckles or moles
- Familiarise yourself with the appearance of your own skin and perform regular self-checks. You may need a close friend or partner to assist with checking your skin in hard to reach places and if you’re unsure whether your skin has changed, try taking photographs each time so that you can compare
Even if you don’t have any particular concerns about your skin, make sure that you get regular skin checks with your doctor. There’s no standard length of time between checks, so let your doctor guide you as to how often you should have your skin checked, and consider popping a note in your calendar for when your next skin check is due so you don’t miss it.
And because early detection of skin cancer is essential, it’s important that you find a doctor that you trust. When seeing a doctor, make sure to:
- Point out any areas of your skin that have changed or that are of particular concern to you. Even if the doctor doesn’t have concerns about the areas that you have identified, it will give them an opportunity to explain to you why they aren’t concerned and share some of their knowledge with you
- Seek advice from trained medical professionals. Look for doctors that have had additional training to detect skin cancers, and are able to properly treat any skin cancers or refer you to a specialist
If you have sought medical advice and do not feel comfortable with the information or advice that has been provided to you, consider obtaining a second opinion. Unfortunately we see too many cases of patients who have not been provided with the right advice from their medical professionals, and are now dealing with advanced cancers or conditions that should have been avoided.
Slip, slop, slap will help keep you protected but early detection may save your life.
Maurice Blackburn are the preferred legal supplier for Triathlon Queensland members. For more information on how Maurice Blackburn can get you back on track, call 1800 810 812 or visit mauriceblackburn.com.au