There are two main categories of skin cancer, namely, melanoma (malignant melanoma) and non-melanoma. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the incidence of both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers has been increasing over the past decades, and WHO estimates that a 10 % decrease in ozone levels will result in an additional 300 000 non-melanoma and 4 500 melanoma skin cancer cases globally.
Melanoma among South African men is ranked 5th most prevalent cancer – 1 in 168 (NCR 2019) lifetime risk – and as the 6th most prevalent cancer among women – 1 in 266 (NCR 2019) lifetime risk – thus showing an overall increase in skin cancer numbers. This may be due to improved screening methods or an overall increase in these numbers.
Melanoma, is less common than other skin cancers, but it is the most dangerous.
Anyone, regardless of skin tone can get a melanoma.
Early detection is key when it comes to beating melanoma. Recognise changes in your own body by becoming familiar with it. Get into the habit of doing monthly skin checks using the ABCDE guidelines and get a friend or family member to check out of sight areas like the scalp, back and buttocks. Any irregularities should immediately be reported to a doctor or dermatologist.
People most at risk include:
- People with fair skin, especially with light hair and eye colour
- People who have had many blistering sunburns, especially as a child or teenager
- People with several large or many small moles, including beauty marks and brown blemishes
- Unusual moles run in the family
- Skin cancer (any type) has been diagnosed in a family member
- People with weak immune systems