A third of all cancers diagnosed globally each year are skin cancers. Over 3 million cases in total, a pandemic far more prevalent than ebola.
The primary cause is understood, with almost 90% of people appreciating that sun exposure brings the risk of skin cancer. Despite this, only 18% take regular action to protect themselves from the sun’s rays.
If signs of skin cancer do emerge, around 50% of patients delay seeking treatment for up to six months. A dangerous gap, when all skin cancers worsen over time and for melanoma, a 4 month delay increases your chance of dying by 40%.
So what is going on, have we all become suicidal? Not really, the patterns described are just part of being human.
Denial Is Instinctive
From accepting our own mortality, to coping with the world we live in, denial can be a helpful mechanism. Without this, we wouldn’t get on a plane, or train, balance our own feelings, or those we display to others.
Denial can provide time to process distressing information, helping to create a more bearable, constructive mindset. Tying this in with a disease which is feared is in a sense a rational mental process.
The danger with this process is a lack of prioritisation, what is meant to protect us ends up harming us. At times, we need to develop alternative strategies to survive and thrive.
Winning The Mental Battle
Denial of skin cancer can relate to prevention, symptoms, or the need for ongoing care and the way to set this aside is through positive alternatives.
Protecting yourself from the sun works and is not inconvenient. If you do develop symptoms, modern diagnostic methods can pinpoint the problem and treatment is now close to 100% successful if the condition is detected early.
Discomfort is removed and lives saved each day. The improvements in skin cancer treatment reward taking a stance against the disease. Denial only goes so far, if we see an adversary as dangerous, we act.
Support is available to do so. If you have concerns, find a specialist and they will help. Should you be worried about a friend, or family member, encourage them to do the same. The battle is being won, we just need to override our instincts.