We all know that the skin is the largest organ of the body which covers the internal organs and protects them from injury; serves as a barrier between germs, such as bacteria and internal organs; and prevents the loss of too much fluid.The skin helps control body temperature and gets rid of waste. Certain cells in the skin communicate with the brain and allow sensations. Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer - usually starts in the basal cells or squamous cells. These cells are found at the base of the outer layer of the skin.
Most non-melanoma skin cancers develop on sun-exposed areas of the body, like the face, ear, neck, lips and the backs of hands. Depending on the type, they can be fast or slow growing, but they rarely spread to other parts of the body. Basal cell or squamous cell cancers are curable if found and treated early.
Melanoma is a cancer that begins in the melanocytes – the cells that produce the skin coloring or pigment known as melanin. Melanin helps protect the deeper layers of the skin from the harmful effects of the Sun.It is more often curable in its very early stages. Although melanoma accounts for only a small percentage of skin cancer, it is far more dangerous than other skin cancers and the cause for most skin cancer deaths.
l Unprotected and/or excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation
l Pale complexion (difficulty tanning, easily sunburned, natural red or blond hair color)
l Occupational exposures to coal tar, pitch, creosote, arsenic compounds, or radium
l Inheritable factors
l Multiple or unusual moles
l Severe sunburns in the past
Skin cancer can be found early, and both doctors and patients play important roles in detecting skin cancer. If one has any of the following symptoms, should seek immediate medical advice.
l Any change on skin, especially in the size or color of a mole, growth, or spot, or a new growth (even if it has no color)
l Scaliness, oozing, bleeding or change in the appearance of a bump or nodule
l The spread of pigmentation (color) beyond its border, such as dark coloring that spreads past the edge of a mole or mark
l A change in sensation, such as itchiness, tenderness or pain
Some ways to be sun safe:
l Look for shade, especially when the sun’s rays are strongest. Practice the shadow rule and teach it to children. If the shadow is shorter than the relevant person, the sun’s rays are at their strongest.
l Cover up with protective clothing to guard as much skin as possible when out in the Sun. Choose comfortable clothes made of tightly woven opaque fabrics.
l Use sunscreen and lip balm with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. Apply a generous amount of sunscreen. Use sunscreen even on hazy or overcast days.
l Cover the head with a wide brim, shading the face, ears and neck. Remember to protect ears and neck with sunscreen when wearing baseball caps.
l Wear sunglasses with 99 to 100 percent UV absorption to provide optimal protection for the eyes and the surrounding skin.
l Avoid other sources of UV light. Tanning beds and sun lamps are dangerous. They also damage the skin in other ways.
The best ways to lower the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer are to avoid long exposure to intense sunlight and practice sun safety. One can still exercise and enjoy outdoor activities while using sun safety methods.