Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is uncontrolled growth of the cells in any layer of the skin, and can be in any place of the body.

  • Ultraviolet (UV) radiation:

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a major risk factor for most skin cancers. UV rays damage the DNA of skin cells. Skin cancers start when this damage affects the DNA of genes that control skin cell growth. Most common sources of UV:

  1. Sunlight is the main source of UV rays.
  2. Tanning lamps and beds are an artificial source of UV radiation
  • Chemicals exposure:

Exposure to certain chemicals especially at workplace, including arsenic, industrial tar, coal, paraffin and certain types of oil may increase the risk for certain types of skin cancers.

  • Fair skin (easily sunburned)

The risk of skin cancer is much higher for people with fair (light-colored) skin than for dark-skinned. This is because melanin helps protect against UV radiation. People with fair (light-colored) having less pigment (melanin) in their skin provides less protection from damaging UV radiation.

  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) infection:

Infection with certain types of HPV, particularly those that affect the anal or genital area, may increase skin cancer risks.

  • A sore that does not heal.
  • Change in sensation – itchiness, tenderness, or pain.
  • Flat, firm, pale or yellow areas, similar to a scar.
  • Small, pink or red, translucent, shiny, pearly bumps, which might have blue, brown, or black areas.
  • Look for new moles and any changes in existing moles in size, shape, or color.

 

Use the ABCDE rule to check any mole or birthmark you have:

 

  • A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
  • B is for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
  • C is for Color: The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
  • D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about the size of a pencil eraser)
  • E is for Evolving: The mole is evolving or changing in size, shape, or color.

Be sun smart:

Excessive exposure to Ultra Violet radiation is the most important risk factor for any type of skin cancer, Sunlight is the main source of UV radiation so avoid direct exposure to sunlight between 10 am and 4 pm and don’t forget that the sun also a very important source for Vit D. There are some steps you can take to limit your exposure to UV rays:

  • Seek a shade:

Get benefit from the trees and the buildings.

  • Wear protective clothing:

Long sleeved shirt and pants covers as much skin as possible.

  • Wide-brimmed hat:

Put a wide-brimmed hat to protect the face, nose, ears and the neck.

  • Sunscreen:
  1. Sunscreen is a product that you put on your skin to protect it from the sun’s UV rays. But it’s Important to know that sunscreen is just a filter – it does not block all UV rays.
  2. Be sure to apply the sunscreen properly, always follow the label directions.
  3. Pay close attention to your face, ears, neck, arms, and any other areas not covered by clothing.
  4. Put sunscreen on 20 minutes before you go outdoors, and reapply it at least every 2 hours to maintain protection.
  5. Ask your Dr. for the suitable type to your skin.

 

  • Sunglasses:

Sunglasses are important for protecting the delicate skin around the eyes, as well as the eyes themselves.

  • Protect children from the sun: using all the precautions (sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, and protective clothing) especially at schools and sea trips.
  • Get your skin checked by your doctor as part of a routine cancer-related check-up.
  • Check your own skin:

It’s important to check your own skin, preferably once a month. A skin self-exam is best done in a well-lit room in front of a full-length mirror. You can use a hand-held mirror to look at areas that are hard to see, such as the backs of your thighs. A close friend or family member may be able to help you with these exams, especially for those hard-to-see areas like your back or scalp.

Steps to exam yourself:

  1. Examine your body front and back in the mirror, then right and left sides with arms raised.
  2.  Bend elbows and look carefully at forearms, upper underarms and palms.
  3.  Look at the backs of your legs and feet, the spaces between your toes and on the sole.
  4. Examine the backs of your neck and scalp with a hand mirror. Part hair for a closer look.
  5. Check your back and buttocks with a hand mirror.
+ Risk factors
  • Ultraviolet (UV) radiation:

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a major risk factor for most skin cancers. UV rays damage the DNA of skin cells. Skin cancers start when this damage affects the DNA of genes that control skin cell growth. Most common sources of UV:

  1. Sunlight is the main source of UV rays.
  2. Tanning lamps and beds are an artificial source of UV radiation
  • Chemicals exposure:

Exposure to certain chemicals especially at workplace, including arsenic, industrial tar, coal, paraffin and certain types of oil may increase the risk for certain types of skin cancers.

  • Fair skin (easily sunburned)

The risk of skin cancer is much higher for people with fair (light-colored) skin than for dark-skinned. This is because melanin helps protect against UV radiation. People with fair (light-colored) having less pigment (melanin) in their skin provides less protection from damaging UV radiation.

  • Human papilloma virus (HPV) infection:

Infection with certain types of HPV, particularly those that affect the anal or genital area, may increase skin cancer risks.

+ Early signs and symptoms
  • A sore that does not heal.
  • Change in sensation – itchiness, tenderness, or pain.
  • Flat, firm, pale or yellow areas, similar to a scar.
  • Small, pink or red, translucent, shiny, pearly bumps, which might have blue, brown, or black areas.
  • Look for new moles and any changes in existing moles in size, shape, or color.

 

Use the ABCDE rule to check any mole or birthmark you have:

 

  • A is for Asymmetry: One half of a mole or birthmark does not match the other.
  • B is for Border: The edges are irregular, ragged, notched, or blurred.
  • C is for Color: The color is not the same all over and may include shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue.
  • D is for Diameter: The spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about the size of a pencil eraser)
  • E is for Evolving: The mole is evolving or changing in size, shape, or color.
+ Prevention

Be sun smart:

Excessive exposure to Ultra Violet radiation is the most important risk factor for any type of skin cancer, Sunlight is the main source of UV radiation so avoid direct exposure to sunlight between 10 am and 4 pm and don’t forget that the sun also a very important source for Vit D. There are some steps you can take to limit your exposure to UV rays:

  • Seek a shade:

Get benefit from the trees and the buildings.

  • Wear protective clothing:

Long sleeved shirt and pants covers as much skin as possible.

  • Wide-brimmed hat:

Put a wide-brimmed hat to protect the face, nose, ears and the neck.

  • Sunscreen:
  1. Sunscreen is a product that you put on your skin to protect it from the sun’s UV rays. But it’s Important to know that sunscreen is just a filter – it does not block all UV rays.
  2. Be sure to apply the sunscreen properly, always follow the label directions.
  3. Pay close attention to your face, ears, neck, arms, and any other areas not covered by clothing.
  4. Put sunscreen on 20 minutes before you go outdoors, and reapply it at least every 2 hours to maintain protection.
  5. Ask your Dr. for the suitable type to your skin.

 

  • Sunglasses:

Sunglasses are important for protecting the delicate skin around the eyes, as well as the eyes themselves.

  • Protect children from the sun: using all the precautions (sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, and protective clothing) especially at schools and sea trips.
+ Early detection
  • Get your skin checked by your doctor as part of a routine cancer-related check-up.
  • Check your own skin:

It’s important to check your own skin, preferably once a month. A skin self-exam is best done in a well-lit room in front of a full-length mirror. You can use a hand-held mirror to look at areas that are hard to see, such as the backs of your thighs. A close friend or family member may be able to help you with these exams, especially for those hard-to-see areas like your back or scalp.

Steps to exam yourself:

  1. Examine your body front and back in the mirror, then right and left sides with arms raised.
  2.  Bend elbows and look carefully at forearms, upper underarms and palms.
  3.  Look at the backs of your legs and feet, the spaces between your toes and on the sole.
  4. Examine the backs of your neck and scalp with a hand mirror. Part hair for a closer look.
  5. Check your back and buttocks with a hand mirror.

Last reviewed in November 2017