Question: I am a 35-year-old fair skinned female and throughout my 20s and 30s have been a regular user of sunbeds, as I heard they were safer than sunbathing. Recently I noticed a scaly, pinkish patch at the base of my neck, which bleeds every now and then. A friend said it could be a basal cell cancer. Is it likely I could have a skin cancer from using sunbeds?
Dr Coe: What you’ve described is likely to be a basal cell carcinoma or BCC, the most common type of skin cancer in New Zealand. BCCs can often result from damage caused by UV exposure from the sun, as well as sunbeds. Many sunbeds give out greater doses of UV rays than the midday tropical sun, which is contrary to a previously widely-held, but incorrect, view that they were a safer option. In fact, sunbeds are now considered to be so dangerous that they are banned altogether in Australia and a bill is currently waiting to be passed into law in New Zealand banning sunbed use for people under the age of 18.
It’s very important that you get your spot checked as soon as possible by a doctor or skin cancer specialist. Surgery to remove a BCC becomes more invasive the longer a BCC is allowed to continue to grow and the scar can be disfiguring. So it is important that they are removed at the earliest stage possible.
MoleMan is a full service mole and skin cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment facility in Northcote Point. Their skin cancer doctors can map and identify skin cancers on the spot, as well as provide any necessary surgery, treatment and follow-up care. The team at MoleMan aims to provide exceptional patient care, at an affordable price, in a warm, welcoming and friendly environment.
Chief MoleMan, Dr Grant Coe, has had extensive experience in skin cancer screening and surgery, both in New Zealand and Australia, and answers questions as well as sharing advice, tips and information each month in Channel Magazine.
Call the MoleMan team today to enquire about full body skin cancer and melanoma checks with digital dermoscopy (mole mapping) technology on 0800 DR MOLE (376653) or 09 480 6416 or visit www.moleman.co.nz for pricing and frequently asked questions. Dr Coe is also an affiliated provider to Southern Cross for skin cancer surgery and selected services.