Understanding Melanoma and Where to Find a Skin Cancer Clinic or Medical Centre in Albany
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer which develops in the melanocytes, the skin’s pigment cells. Every year in New Zealand, 4,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma. Melanoma also accounts for almost 80% of all skin cancer deaths. The incidence of melanoma is higher in New Zealand than anywhere else in the world.
Melanoma develops in skin cells known as melanocytes which are located in the skin’s deeper layers. Melanocytes produce melanin, which is a protein that protects the skin from harmful UV radiation. The melanocytes in people with darker skin produce more melanin than those of people with lighter skin tones. This means that fair-skinned individuals are more likely to develop a range of skin cancers, including melanoma.
Causes of Melanoma
The exact cause of melanoma is not always known, but there are several known risk factors which can make a person much more vulnerable. Most melanomas are caused by exposure to the sun’s UV rays. Even childhood sun exposure leads to a higher risk of melanoma later on. Tanning beds also produce UV radiation – more, in fact, than the sun itself. Tanning beds are not a safe alternative to the sun; they actually increase your risk of melanoma and other forms of skin cancer more than the sun does.
Other risk factors include:
Light skin and hair
Skin that burns easily and doesn’t tan
Family or personal history of melanoma
More than 50 moles on your skin
Personal history of non-melanoma skin cancer
What You Can Do
If you are considered high risk for melanoma, consult with your doctor about the best ways to protect yourself. Your doctor may want you to visit a skin cancer clinic every six months or so to keep track of skin changes and moles that might become dangerous.
You can also perform regular skin self-exams – your first line of defence against skin cancer. To perform a self-exam, gather a full-length mirror, a bright light, a hand mirror, a blow dryer and two chairs. Thoroughly examine your face and scalp, using the blow dryer to expose each section of your scalp for easier viewing. Work your way down your body, checking every area of your skin including arms, hands, neck, torso, back, legs and feet. Use the chairs and hand mirror as needed to examine hard-to-see areas. Some commonly missed spots include fingernails and toenails, the spaces between fingers and toes, under the breasts and the soles of the feet.
Where to Find a Skin Cancer Medical Centre
At Northpoint Medical & Skin Centre, we are a skin cancer centre providing comprehensive skin cancer screenings and management. We offer after-hours appointments for your convenience without any extra charges. We focus on providing affordable care for all ages and a range of services including men’s, women’s and children’s healthcare, preventive care and management of chronic conditions, immunisations, and more. Don’t leave your health to chance. Take a proactive stance and let us help detect any potential problems in their early – and treatable – stages. To make an appointment at our Medical centre in Albany, contact us today.