Valuable UK research is good to see and will help, our greatest weapon against skin cancer is still early detection.
Skin cancer is now the most common type of cancer in the UK, yet unlike bowel, or breast cancer, we have no national screening program. This is despite almost 50 new cases of melanoma being diagnosed each day and related fatalities.
The latter are thankfully avoidable in most cases, providing symptoms are found at an early stage and the disease is not allowed to spread. A cure can come from minor surgery, with success rates close to 100%.
Whilst melanoma is the most serious skin cancer, there are also reasons for detecting other types as soon as possible. Spreading to other organs is rare but if left, they can cause unwanted damage and unpleasant symptoms.
Who Should Opt For Screening?
Nobody is exempt from the possibility of skin cancer, so an annual check makes sense for all of us. There are higher risk categories:
- People with a family history of melanoma.
- Those who have had a melanoma in the past.
- Having a large number of, or unusual moles.
- Above average sun exposure, or sunburn.
New moles in adulthood deserve note, or uncommon changes. Taking immunosuppresants can encourage skin cancer, the reason that transplant patients, or those with irritable bowel disorders need screening programs.
Which Screening Programs Are Best?
Established, modern approaches use digital imaging and video to either pick up lesions, or skin changes over time. The best approach to using them is the one which suits your body and medical history.
A consultant dermatologist specialising in skin cancer will work with you to build a program, core aspects include:
- Full Body Dermoscopy – Able to identify issues on a microscopic scale.
- Digital Mole Mapping – To monitor mole patterns and changes over time.
- Annual Skin Cancer Checks – Thorough, individually tailored examination.
- Genetic Melanoma Testing – Valuable for those with higher risk factors.
There can be variations in approach, or more than one approach used. The essential techniques are sequential digital imaging, to monitor change, the ability to highlight unusual areas and the experience of a consultant specialising in skin cancer.
What Are The Overall Benefits?
The primary one is your long term health, skin cancer is not a minor issue and as with most cancers, early detection is a key factor. In the event treatment is needed, our North London clinic offers all facilities in house.
Prompt action also means that treatment is more likely to be successful, with less surgery, medication, discomfort, or cosmetic issues. Downtime will be reduced, leaving you able to be with your family, or at work.
Screening is not an expensive process and can save cost, from additional treatment, or lost time. These are useful aspects, although the core reason is to gain peace of mind and avoid an unwanted condition.
We would like to see everyone in the UK at least have annual monitoring but this is unlikely. Please take a look at full details on skin cancer screening and see how a quite friendly process can help so much.