The Irish Examiner looked into the lack of awareness surrounding skin cancer symptoms and warning signs for International Men’s Health Week with expert advice from Dr Ross Perry.
Studies have shown that men are reluctant to seek help or talk about health issues – the stereotype of men being reluctant to face health issues is based on fact.
Running from 10th-16th June 2019, International Men’s Health Week is designed to encourage men to talk about physical and mental health conditions and to seek help for anything that concerns them.
The Irish Examiner explored the issue of skin cancer, which actually affects more men than women in Ireland, where in 2017, non-melanoma skin cancer rate was 46% higher in men compared to women and mortality rates were 2.5 times higher for non-melanoma skin cancers.
Kevin O’Hagan, Cancer Prevention Manager, Irish Cancer Society, explained:
“This could be related to the fact that men are more likely to work outdoors than women and may not take the same precautions to protect their skin as well as a poor awareness among men of skin cancer signs. Men may also ignore changes to the skin which are not painful, and other masculine traits such as physical toughness and self-reliance may also contribute to later diagnosis.”
Dr Ross Perry, Founder and Medical Director of Cosmedics Skin Clinics, is an expert on skin cancer. He was invited to share his expertise on the matter and started by sharing an explanation of the skin’s functions:
“It covers your entire body and protects you against harmful factors from the environment such as the sun, hot temperatures and germs. The skin controls body temperature, removes waste products from the body through sweat and provides the sense of touch.
“It also helps make vitamin D cells in the skin sometimes change and no longer grow or behave normally. These changes may lead to non-cancerous (benign) growths such as dermatofibromas, moles, skin tags and warts.
“Generally, non-melanoma skin cancer starts in round cells called basal cells found in the top layer of the skin, making up about 75%–80% of all skin cancers. It can also start in squamous cells of the skin, which are flat cells found in the outer part of the epidermis. Both tend to grow slowly and are often found early.”
He continues to explain how sun exposure can contribute to formation of skin cancer lesions:
“Most cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are caused by contact with UV rays from the sun over a long time. People who work outside, have a higher risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancer because they are outdoors for long periods.”
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The sun is the main cause of non-melanoma skin cancer, but it can take years to appear. That’s why it is important to firstly prevent sun damage by using good sun protection measures (SPF, covering up and avoiding the peak periods of sun) and secondly to check the skin regularly for any worrying signs.
Identifying a Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer
Non-melanoma skin cancer can appear in a number of ways:
- Lump in/on the skin
- Discoloured patch of skin
- Growth that won’t heal
- Could be red and firm or flat and scaly
- New moles
- Current moles or blemishes that change appearance or behaviour
Men with fair/light/pale complexion prone to freckles or burning are at higher risk. Also those with a lot of moles, a history of sun exposure or tanning beds and those who’ve had sunburn in the past are known to be at higher risk.
However, skin cancer can also affect people who meet none of the above. That’s why it’s so important to take precautions against sunburn and check the skin regularly for any worrying signs.
Most moles are harmless and will look the same for many years, but any that cause concern should be checked out for peace of mind or early treatment.
Dr Ross Perry
Dr Ross Perry regularly provides expert comment and advises the media on a range of skincare and health-related issues.
He has particular expertise in skin surgery mole removal and melanoma; having removed thousands of moles in his career, both within the NHS and privately through Cosmedics Skin Clinics. He provides expert advice on skin cancer, sun damage and sun protection for a variety of UK media and publications.
He is also highly experienced in non-surgical cosmetic and medical treatments such as BOTOX® and dermal fillers, where he has a reputation for excellent results that look entirely natural.
Cosmedics Skin Clinics
Cosmedics Skin Clinics was established in 2003 and has built up an excellent reputation for cosmetic and medical treatments, carried out by GMC Registered Doctors. The company offer a full range of cosmetic treatments, including popular lip enhancement and wrinkle relaxing injections, dermal fillers; plus medical treatments including mole removal, thread vein treatment and excessive sweating injections.
Cosmedics Skin Clinics was has a team of skin treatment doctors and surgeons in their 5 skin clinics across London and Bristol led by Dr Ross Perry.
Call 020 7386 0464 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment.