Skin cancer is at the top of two important lists:
- It’s the most common cancer in Canada, with 80 000 new cases diagnosed every single year. That’s more than breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer combined.
- It’s the most preventable cancer. 90% of cases have ultraviolet radiation as a direct cause.
Early signs of skin cancer are, in a nutshell, any growing or changing mole or lesion.
Moles greater than 5mm, that are asymmetrical, have irregular borders, are several colours or appear to change colours, warrant evaluation. As do any unusual scabbing or crusting spots, especially on the face and head.
We usually divide skin cancer into two groups: melanoma and non-melanoma. 5,000 of those 80,000 new cases are melanoma, the most deadly form.
Non-melanoma cancers divide again into squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinomas are more aggressive, while basal cell carcinoma accounts for 90% of all skin cancer.
The rising incidence of melanoma in the past 25 years deserves our attention. The yearly percentage increase speaks for itself: 2.6%. Now multiply that by 25 years. As is the case with most cancers, skin cancer rates rise as we age and tend to be higher in males than females.
We have a Naturopathic doctor with a focus in oncology at The Nardella Clinic. She possesses the experience and qualifications to perform regular cancer checkups. For skin cancer these check ups are especially important if you have fair skin, light hair, multiple moles, irregular skin tone, or spend a lot of your time in the sun or tanning salons.
Yes, tanning salons. The radiation tanning beds emit are a direct cause of cancer. Just avoid them.
The sun emits all kinds of radiation, including ultraviolet. We don’t have to avoid the sun — in fact we shouldn’t — but we can minimize the negative impact it has.
Keep out of direct sunlight at peak exposure (10AM – 2PM). Wear hats to keep the heat and radiation off your head, neck, and face. UV protective clothing, or at least keeping skin covered, is also important. Then there are sunblocks.
How many people realize that there’s a difference between sunblock and sunscreen? They both do exactly what the names imply. So which is better? Blocking is better than screening, and not just because of results. Sun blocks are mineral-based and typically contain fewer chemical agents.
Using sunblocks properly is important. Apply liberally 15 minutes before sun exposure, then every two hours. You should reapply more frequently if you’re sweating, swimming, or anything else that may wash it off. Choose something that is SPF15 or higher.
The greatest value Naturopathic medicine can bring to the area of skin cancer is prevention. You can use the methods above without any assistance. When it comes to tailored prevention plans, the ability to fit the pieces together is all important. The Naturopaths at the Nardella Clinic can create a diet and supplement regimen to ensure your greatest health and the best odds possible at preventing skin cancer.
If you already have a skin cancer diagnoses, Naturopathic medicine still has a lot to offer. The Nardella Clinic can compliment and optimize the effectiveness of conventional treatment while diminishing negative side effects, and speed your recovery from surgery and other procedures. And, of course, we’ll work with you to prevent recurrence.
Skin cancer, while being common, is well within our means to prevent. Just let us know you’re interested in getting the most out of your skin cancer prevention routine.