Skin & Skin Cancer: Insights You Need To Know
April 5, 2022
Skin is the largest organ in our body that actively and visibly does multiple functions. It protects our body from external factors, enables us to feel by observing sensory information, stores fat & water, and regulates our body temperature. Despite playing a significant role as a protector, our skin, which occupies almost 16% of our body mass with 2mm of thickness, is also under the threat of the emergence of cancerous cells.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the world. While getting exposed to too much Ultraviolet B radiation (UVB 290-320 nm) is a well-known causing agent of skin cancer for the majority of the population. Pollution, Arsenic from pesticides, radiation therapy, coal tar, and various hydrocarbons can also cause it.
Generally, Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC), Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC), and Melanoma are the most familiar variety of skin cancer. SCC is the commonest, and Melanoma is rare and highly malignant. Conventionally, there is an assumption that all types of skin cancer are lower among Indians than people from Western countries due to the protective effect, which creates a chemical pigment defence.
There aren’t many national surveys and cross-country data regarding the spread of skin cancer. Still, several reports reveal that skin cancers may be on the rise in India. Previously, it was reported that the incidence of skin cancer in India is less than 1% of all cancers, but a recent study conducted in Punjab highlighted an increase of 3.4%. Still, it is undeniable that there is a lack of awareness regarding skin cancer is prevalent in India.
We can protect our skin from potential harm if we indulge in precautionary actions that prevent it. The most common thing we can do is, use sunscreen. Protecting yourself from UV rays is essential all year round, not just during the summer, not just when you are outdoors, as UV rays are reflected by cement, snow, etc. Its ability to block UV rays is promoted as an essential means of preventing skin cancer.
You can achieve invisible skin protection by equally distributing sunscreen lotion like roughly about half a teaspoon (2mg of sunscreen lotion /cm2 area) in the face and neck and other highly exposed areas of skin. Its effectiveness increases preferably while reapplying every 3-4 hours, especially between 10 am – 3 pm when the UV index peaks.
Since sunscreens are commercialised, there may be a misconception about how authentic it works to prevent skin cancer. But, several well-conducted randomised and controlled trials and research with continuous follow-ups showed that using sunscreen regularly reduces the risk of squamous cell and melanoma skin cancers.
The Canadian Dermatology Association and the American Academy of Dermatology also recommend using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF (Sunscreen Protection Factor) of at least 30 for most children and adults to prevent skin cancer.
We are nearing summer, and it’s high time we protect and care for our skin. We must constantly check our skin and be alert if there are any unlikely changes. Especially with pre-malignant skin lesions, it is not recommended to ignore any long-standing skin rash is not recommended.
The earlier we detect the symptoms and signs of skin cancer, the earlier doctors can curb and treat it successfully.