This month is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and sports massage therapist Lauren O'Sullivan shares some helpful guidelines in what to look for and how to protect yourself as well as her personal experience of a skin cancer scare.
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month! Did you know that skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers if signs are caught early? This blog post is here to help you know what to look out for. As a soft tissue therapist I see a lot of skin, and so I am fairly attuned to noticing subtle changes, but how well do you know your own skin?
This month find some time to give yourself a skin check from head to toe - you will need to use a mirror. Don’t forget to look at your face and scalp. You can use a hairdryer to part your hair when looking at your scalp, or get someone to help you. You are looking for anything new, changing or unusual. So what is unusual?
Document your findings somewhere so that you can refer back to them next time you do a check. This is useful when trying to work out if anything has CHANGED. Skincancer.org recommends that you do a skin check once a month, but every 3 months is probably a little more realistic and works just fine.
The other important prevention method is protecting your skin from sun damage. The more you burn your skin from sun exposure, the greater your risk of developing melanoma. Five or more sunburns more than doubles your risk of developing melanoma. Even if you are tan or have dark skin, your skin can still be damaged by the sun especially when there is a high UV index - when and where the sun is strongest. Think about some simple ways to stay safe in the sun:
If you do notice something slightly abnormal in your skin make an appointment with your Doctor. If you have a partner you can ask them if they notice a difference from how it might have looked before (if you don’t have a reliable skin check history) or if you regularly see a massage therapist and feel comfortable asking them, see if they have noticed a change. You may be able to provide a bit more information to your Doctor this way, but the most important thing is to get it checked. Better safe than sorry. Early detection starts with you.
Blogs from the WNT team. For our blogs from before June 2020 please see individual profile pages - it's a good way to get to know practitioners too.