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Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, explores the signs and symptoms of skin cancer and emphasises the importance of early detection.


“Skin cancer, or the abnormal proliferation of skin cells, is most commonly found on sun-exposed skin, such as the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms and hands, and legs. However, this frequent type of cancer can also develop on parts of your skin that are not often exposed to sunlight, such as the palms of the hands and soles of the feet,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.


“Checking your skin for unusual changes can aid in the early detection of skin cancer. Early identification of skin cancer increases your chances of successful skin cancer therapy.”


Skin cancer is classified into three types: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Affinity Health explores the signs and symptoms of these skin cancers and emphasises the importance of limiting or preventing exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation to reduce your risk of skin cancer.

Signs And Symptoms Of Skin Cancer

Basal cell carcinoma

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer and the most frequently occurring form of all cancers.

BCC is more common in sun-exposed body parts like the neck or face.

Because BCCs develop slowly, most are treatable and cause little harm if detected and treated early. Understanding BCC causes, risk factors and warning signs will help you recognise them early when they are simplest to treat and cure.

Basal cell carcinoma can manifest as:

  • A waxy or pearly bump
  • A flat, flesh-coloured or brown scar-like lesion
  • A bleeding or scabbing wound that heals and reappears

Squamous cell carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the skin is the second most prevalent type of skin cancer, distinguished by aberrant, rapid squamous cell proliferation. Most SCCs are treatable if detected early.

  • A solid red nodule
  • A scaly, crusty lesion with a flat surface
  • Wart-like skin
  • Raised growths with a central depression

Melanoma, which means “black tumour”, is the most invasive skin cancer with the highest risk of death. It can form anywhere on your body, in otherwise healthy skin or an existing malignant mole. While it’s a highly dangerous skin cancer, it’s still treatable if found early. Early detection and treatment are especially important if you have a pale complexion, blonde or red hair, and blue eyes.

Melanoma symptoms include:

  • A sizeable brownish patch dotted with darker speckles.
  • A mole that changes colour, size, texture, or bleeds.
  • A tiny lesion with an uneven border with red, pink, white, blue, or blue-black sections.
  • An unpleasant, itchy, or burning lesion.
  • Dark lesions on the palms, soles, fingertips, or toes, as well as mucous membranes lining the mouth, nose, vagina, or anus.

While it is less common for melanoma to develop from an existing mole, it does happen. On average, 20-30% of melanomas are found to have arisen from pre-existing moles, whereas the majority develop on normal skin,” explains Hewlett.


“Because most melanomas do not begin as moles, it is extremely important to pay attention to changes in your skin. The number of moles on your skin may help forecast your chance of acquiring melanoma. It’s critical to understand if you fall into a high-risk category for acquiring melanoma skin cancer. Because melanomas develop so quickly, a delay in treatment can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.”


Hewlett continues, “Knowing your risk might help you be more careful in monitoring changes in your skin and obtaining skin tests, as melanomas have a 99% cure rate if detected early. The depth of the malignant development is closely related to treatment outcome; thus, early detection is critical.”

How To Protect Yourself Against Skin Cancer

Skin cancer prevention necessitates a comprehensive strategy to UV radiation protection.

This is because UV radiation from the sun is hazardous and deceptive. It causes premature ageing and skin cancer and reaches you even when you try to avoid it by piercing clouds and glass and bouncing off snow, water, and sand.


What’s more, sun damage accumulates over the years, from lengthy outdoor exposure to everyday tasks like walking the dog, going from your car to the store and bringing in the mail.

The Skin Cancer Foundation advises you to:

  • Seek shade, particularly between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Avoid tanning and using UV tanning beds.
  • Wear protective apparel, such as a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Apply a broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher daily.
  • Use a water-resistant, broad-spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater for extended outdoor activities.
  • 30 minutes before heading outside, apply 2 tablespoons of sunscreen to your entire body. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating excessively.
  • Keep babies away from the sun. Sunscreen can be applied to babies above the age of six months.
  • Every month, check your skin from head to toe.
  • A dermatologist should perform a professional skin checkup at least once a year.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading health insurance provider, offering you a range of options at affordable rates, including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of medical insurance that meets your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Our range of healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service at all times. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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