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If you thought that skin cancer, or melanoma, was one of the “lesser” cancers, think again. What makes it so deadly is that it can transfer easily from skin to lymph nodes.
Incidents are on the rise across Canada and skin cancer is now the most common cancer diagnosed. And it may come as a shock that Nova Scotia has the highest incidence rate in Canada.
Protecting yourself and your children from ultraviolet radiation, believed to be the leading cause of skin cancer, is the best approach to prevention. Cover up with a wide-brimmed hat and light clothing, use sunscreen with a minimum SPF rating of 15, avoid being in the sun during peak UV hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and finally, avoid tanning beds.
The good news is that early detection is key. Use the ABCDE approach when examining moles on your skin for unusual changes:
Assymetry – bigger on one side
Border – unusual shape
Colour – usually more than one, often brownish
Diameter – larger than usual
Evolution – changes in size or sideways growth
And don’t delay visiting your doctor. For more information, take a look at this handout from the Canadian Dermatology Association: http://www.dermatology.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Melanoma-handout-EN.pdf.