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Understanding Skin Cancer and Tips to Lower the Risk

Dr. Sehrish Aftab

3 min read

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Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells, mostly asymmetrical (irregular), caused by the DNA damage, either by mutation through UV rays or genetic abnormalities. It is one of the most common cancers in the world. It can be treated with high likelihood of success if caught in the earlier stages. Skin cancer is relatively easier to detect than other, more silent type of cancers. While it is impossible to completely prevent it, there are choices you can make to lower your risk of developing it. The key to protection from this cancer is to stay away from the harmful UV rays not only in summers but throughout the year. Let’s see what are the causes of skin cancer and how can we prevent it. 

Causes 

Skin cancer occurs when their is an abnormal growth of your skin cells. This abnormality then spreads to other parts of the body, possibly affecting multiple other organs by hampering their activities. This spread is known as the metastization of the cancer. 

The leading cause of skin cancer is skin exposure to ultraviolet light. You can get exposed to this through the sun-rays or even tanning beds.

The ultraviolet rays alter your skin’s DNA which allows skin cells to grow out of control which results in cancer. There are multiple risk factors of contracting skin cancer. 

Risk Factors

Melanoma, which is the worst type of skin cancer, and nonmelanoma skin cancers have the following risk factors in common: 

  1. The number of moles you have. The more the moles on your body, the higher the risk of you getting melanoma.
  2. People with more exposure to the sun are more likely to develop skin cancer. If your work requires you to face the sun, chances are you can develop both nonmelanoma and melanoma skin cancers.  
  3. Gender plays a role in determining your risk of skin cancer. Men are more likely to develop one as opposed to women. Younger women (age<50) are however, more likely to develop it compared to men of similar age. 
  4. Your age also takes a toll on you. Overtime, your body gets exposed to increasing amount ultraviolet radiation. This raises the risk of getting skin cancer. 
  5. Your geographical location is another factor that determines your risk of cancer. If you live in mountainous regions or a warm climate, you get more sun exposure than others. Hence, your chances of developing skin cancer rises.  
  6. Your exposure to harmful rays and chemicals. If you work with gamma-rays or are exposed to any radiation, you run a higher chance of developing skin cancer.  

Prevention

Stay in the Shade

Life doesn’t stop, the best you could do is to take precaution and protect yourself as best as you can. Use umbrellas whenever you go out in the sun.

Avoid getting out in the sun during the midday (from 1 pm to 4 pm). Even when you are using umbrellas, don’t forget to wear a bit of sunscreen (learn more below) and protective clothing. This is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from skin cancer.

Use Sunscreens

Sunscreens are specially made to protect you from the UV rays. They are your best shot against skin cancer. However, just make sure that you use the sunscreens that are of good quality.

Sunscreens wear off rather quickly so make sure that you keep it with you and reapply after a couple of hours. Research and find out which sunscreen would suit your skin.

Cover Up

Cover yourself up with the protective clothing whenever you go out in the sun to lower the risks of skin cancer.  Go for full sleeves and wear hats that have a broad brim and wear sunglasses.

Cover up as much as you can, especially if you are planning a day out in the sun or planning a trip to the beach. Make sure to take umbrellas along with you for that extra layer of protection. Avoid sun exposures or beach day out during the midday especially from 1 pm to 4 pm.

Keep Children Out of the Sunlight during the Harshest Hours

Plan indoor activities especially during the summer break and keep our children in as much as possible when the sun is shining at its peak. Keep the children busy, so they don’t feel that they are being kept away from their favorite outdoor activities.

There are a lot of really cool indoor activities that you can plan. Let your creative self out and protect your children from the harmful UV rays. If you have a newborn, take extra precaution, since the skin of a newborn is more sensitive. Does your child suffer from Vitamin D deficiency? Then it is recommended to expose them to early morning sun for 30-45 minutes, however, avoid the afternoon sun.

If you suspect any irregular growth on your skin, consult a specialist doctor immediately. You can find and book an appointment with a top Dermatologist in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad through oladoc.com. You can also call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your skin-related concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Sehrish Aftab - Author Dr. Sehrish Aftab is a Dermatologist practicing in Multan. Dr. Sehrish Aftab has the following degrees: M.B.B.S., F.C.P.S. and has 10 years of experience. Dr. Sehrish is a known name in Multan and has rave reviews from her patients. She believes in the diligence and quality delivery of medical care. She offers various services related to dermatology. She also writes about common dermatology-related issues and what to look out for if you encounter them. Find her articles linked below.
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