Skin Can­cer: What, Why And How

STILL THINK THAT SUN TANNING IS COOL? MAYBE THIS WILL CHANGE YOUR MIND.

CLEO (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS -

The dish on a silent killer.

Im­ages of long, tanned limbs un­der the St. Tropez sun are ev­ery girls’ dream. Who doesn’t want the bronzed god­dess look? We’ll tell you who – you! With skin can­cer num­bers on the rise, is the health of our largest or­gan re­ally worth sac­ri­fic­ing for beauty? CLEO looks at why skin prob­lems are on the rise and how you are not pro­tect­ing your­self enough.

SKIN CAN­CER IS NOT AS SE­RI­OUS AS OTHER CAN­CERS

Time to de­bunk that myth! With two main skin lay­ers, we have all the more to take care of. Sure, skin can­cer is quite com­mon in some coun­tries and is highly treat­able. Dr. Saun­thari, a con­sul­tant doc­tor for the National Can­cer So­ci­ety of Malaysia, ex­plains that the most com­mon types of skin can­cer are basal cell car­ci­noma (75 per cent of all skin can­cers) and squa­mous cell (20 per cent). The most deadly form is melanoma (five per cent), and this can­cer kills more peo­ple than the pre­vi­ous two com­bined. “Skin can­cer is more com­monly over­looked as pre­vi­ous cases clas­si­fied as non-can­cer are now iden­ti­fied as early-stage can­cer. This is due to a re-clas­si­fi­ca­tion of melanoma.”

TANNING BEDS ARE A QUICK FIX

This gen­er­a­tion wants ev­ery­thing quick, and tans are no dif­fer­ent. But did you know that tanning beds use UVR (Ul­tra Vi­o­let Ra­di­a­tion), which is clas­si­fied by the IIn­ter­na­tional Agency for Re­search on Can­cer as a Group 1 list of the most danger­ous can­cer-caus­ing de­vices? That’s se­ri­ous stuff! Ac­cord­ing to the Jour­nal of Amer­i­can Acad­emy of

Der­ma­tol­ogy 2011, in­door tan­ners have a 69 per cent in­crease in chances of get­ting a risk of basal-cell car­ci­noma. Aware­ness is still at its min­i­mum, as re­search con­ducted by the Amer­i­can Acad­emy of Der­ma­tol­ogy showed that on an aver­age day, one mil­lion Amer­i­cans use tanning salons.

WE SKIMP OR SKIP ON THE SPF COM­PLETELY

Ex­pos­ing your­self to the sun’s harm­ful rays with­out pro­tec­tion is scary! Yes, it’s a has­sle but it needs to be done. “There are dif­fer­ent strengths and types when it comes to SPF,” says Dr. Saun­thari. “SPF15 means that it takes 15 times longer to achieve tanning of the skin com­pared to no SPF. Choose sun­blocks that pro­tect against UVA and UVB.” How­ever, if you thought you could ap­ply SPF once and be done with it, you are wrong. SPF only lasts for 30 min­utes to a cou­ple of hours de­pend­ing on ex­po­sure and el­e­ment fac­tors such as wa­ter. There­fore it only works best if ap­plied more than once! So the cue here? Top up!

WE THINK WE’RE NOT AT RISK

“Any­one can get skin can­cer,” says Dr. Saun­thari. “Some peo­ple are more at risk than oth­ers though. Take for ex­am­ple peo­ple with lighter hair and skin colours. This is be­cause they have less melanin in their skin to pro­tect them. Melanin is a nat­u­ral bar­rier to UV rays so a re­duced amount puts you in dan­ger.” Keep in mind that a lack of melanin doesn’t mean that skin can­cer dis­crim­i­nates be­tween race, gen­der or age. Ev­ery­one needs to take the same amount of pro­tec­tion re­gard­less.

YOU HAVEN’T IN­VESTED IN A GREAT DER­MA­TOL­O­GIST

Der­ma­tol­o­gists are a com­plete ne­ces­sity. Your run-of-the-mill doc­tor at the clinic won’t be able to tell you when your mole is danger­ous or when your freck­les or skin tags are look­ing a lit­tle ab­nor­mal. A good der­ma­tol­o­gist will be able to ad­vise you on the skin pro­tec­tion mea­sures you need to take and how to pre­vent any nasty hap­pen­ings. You can, how­ever, help your­self by check­ing your body ev­ery month. Take note of any moles (new or old) on your body and any changes in height, colour and shape.

YOU FOR­GET TO PRO­TECT YOUR EYES

Not keep­ing your peepers safe from the sun can re­sult in cataracts and eyelid can­cers (yes, there’s such thing). The so­lu­tion? UV-block­ing sun­glasses. You might think that splurg­ing on top-notch sun­glasses with all the add-ons is a waste of money but you’d think twice if you knew that eyelid can­cer can cause thick­en­ing of the eyelid and even a spread­ing, coloured mass on the eyelid it­self.

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