Sun worshippers beware: skin cancer really can happen to you.
The skin is the largest organ in the body. It breaths, it moves, it protects. Take a look at the skin covering your own body, the very organ that secretes to kill bacteria, shields you from the damaging effects of external temperatures: natures technology at its finest.
Unfortunately, we tend to abuse it. We rip out the hair and expose it, suffocate it in scented chemicals and frazzle it under the sun. After all, skin related disorders only to other people – right? Wrong.
As educated as we are on the risks of skin cancer from over exposure from the sun, ignorance seems to remain on the top of everyone’s bliss list. It is now the second most common cancer among people aged 15 to 34 and researchers say sunburn in childhood can double the risk of it developing in later life. A worrying thought as the disease is almost entirely preventable.
Risk factors include moles that are changing, more than 50 moles on your body, the tendency to burn rather than tan, having a family history of the disease and using a tanning bed 10 times of more before the age of 30.
Types of Skin Cancer
There four main types of skin cancer, They include:
A skin cancer that forms in melanocytes that are cells producing melanin that give us a “tan.” It’s not as common as other skin cancers but dangerous when not caught and treated quickly. Typically (but there are variations) melanoma presents as a brown or black spot that can just appear or an existing mole that changes. The spot or bump will generally be irregular in shape and/or colour. It usually appear on the on the trunk of the body, legs, soles of the feet or underneath the nails.
Basal cell carcinoma
As the name suggests, a BCC forms in the basal cells on part of the body heavily exposed to the sun including the face and scalp and accounts for more than 80 percent of skin cancer diagnosis. Slow-spreading, BCC isn’t not life-threatening unless neglected. Look out for red patches or bumps, odd growths and open sores that won’t heal.
Squamous cell carcinoma
SCC Is less common than BCC but also is slow-growing and has a low death rate unless neglected. It presents as rough, scaly red patches, raised bumps or lumps with a slight indentation in the centre, open sores that don’t heal and wartlike growths.
Merkel cell carcinoma
It starts in the Merkel cells below the top layer of skin near the nerve endings and is an aggressive cancer that’s difficult to treat. The good news is its far rarer than melanoma and more likely to occur in people older than 50 and those with a weaker immune system. An early sign of Merke is a fast-growing bump or nodule. that may bleed.
Keep skin in check
If you’re not sure about how a mole should look for you to be suspicious of it, check its asymmetry by drawing a line through its middle. If the two halves don’t match, the mole is more likely to be abnormal. The borders of abnormal moles are not well defined and have an uneven colour, and they are more likely to spread horizontally before they spread vertically, do look out for an enlarging mole that is more than 6mm in diameter, about the size of a rubber on a pencil.
Visit your doctor or dermatologist as soon as you suspect an abnormal mole. Even better, book in for a regular skin check every 12 months. Suspicious moles can be easily removed and tested for depth and spread.
Enjoying the sun is part of life in the UAE with our fantastic beaches and outdoor lifestyle available to everyone. The sun also supplies us with Vitamin D, so important for both our body and our mind. However, keeping protected with regular suncare application, covering up and staying out of the sun during the hottest part of the day and being vigilant about skin checks are easy wins when it comes to staying happy, healthy and safe.
Thank you, Stella Rosato for sharing this post with us.