Ask #SkinishMom – Follow Hugh Jackman, get Regular Skin Cancer checkups

If you want to follow a celeb, follow Hugh Jackman’s lead in going for regular skin cancer checkups, especially if you’re at high risk. It’s reported by People that he was first urged by his makeup artist to have a spot on his nose checked in 2013. It turned out to be basal cell carcinoma – the most common type of skin cancer. Subsequently, Hugh Jackman went for regular 3-monthly checkups and had 4 skin cancers removed.

Risk Factors for Skin Cancer

Given that Hugh Jackman hadn’t been using sunscreen and had lots of sun exposure, he’s at increased risk of skin cancer. The risk factors for skin cancer are:

Skin Cancer Risks

  • Sun Exposure. A tanned look is viewed as healthy but in fact, it’s quite the opposite! The tanned skin meant that the skin cells exposed to UV radiation had increased the production of melanin (skin pigment) to protect the skin from further damage. It is also often misunderstood that we need vitamin D and have to suntan. While it is true that sunlight helps to provide our body with vitamin D, the exposure should not be so much till you get a tan. Check out sun protection from the American Academy of Dermatology.
  • Sun Exposure-related Factors. Your age (the longer you’ve lived, the more sun exposure), your gender (male, if work/sports is outdoors) and where you live (warm climate at high altitude).
  • Fair skin. The less pigment in your skin, the more likely for sun damage, therefore fairer skin is at higher risk. Also at higher risk if you have blonde or red hair, or skin that sunburns or freckles easily.
  • Moles. When moles take on a different shape, darker color or irregular edges, it may be a sign of skin cancer. According to a previous interview with dermatologist Dr Verallo Rowell in this blog, her advice was that while not all moles become skin cancer, the risk is higher when (i) there are many (more than 50), (ii) ‘ugly duckling’ sign where one mole looks different from the others, (iii) family history of melanoma, (iv) photo aging evidence and (iv) have characteristics of

A for Assymetry

B for border irregularity

C for irregular pigment distribution

D for diameter of 6 mm or more

E for evolving or changing noted in size

  • Personal or Family History. If you have had skin cancer or immediately family member with history of skin cancer.
  • Weakened immune system. People with weakened immune systems (HIV) and those taking immunosuppressant drugs.
  • Exposure to radiation. People who received radiation treatment for cancer or skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne may have an increased risk of basal cell carcinoma.
  • Exposure to certain substances. Exposure to certain substances, such as arsenic, industrial tar, coal may increase your risk of skin cancer.

If you’re not in the high risk group or prefer to do some self-inspection, here’s the symptoms to look out for:

Symptoms of Skin Cancer

Skin cancers are named after the type of skin cells and basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer.

The symptoms of Basal Cell Carcinoma:

  • Unusual bump, sore, skin growth
  • Small, pale, waxy, translucent skin bump (center indent or blood vessels seen)
  • Red scaly patch
  • Brownish scar or flesh-colored lesion
  • Bleed if injured or crusted.

The symptoms are Squamous Cell Carcinoma:

  • Unusual bump, sore, skin growth
  • Rough (pink) skin bump
  • Red scaly patch
  • Bleed easily

The symptoms of Melanoma:

  • New spots on skin
  • Change in size, shape, texture, color or bleeding of an existing mole
  • Sore that does not heal
  • Pigment, redness or swelling that spreads outside the border of a spot to the surrounding skin
  • Itchiness, tenderness or pain

Typically at the physician, there are a couple of tests including skin biopsy to get an accurate diagnosis. Check your skin regularly so that you’d know when something is out of the ordinary.

Slapping on sunscreen,

#SkinishMom

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