27 July 2015
It's summer and we may have plans to go on holiday. Possibly somewhere sunny, where we can lay on the beach and enjoy the sun and the sea.
It sounds relaxing, but don't forget to take care of your skin. This article by Dr Ioulios Palamaras will give you some advice how to look after yourself, especially if you have moles on your body.
How can I avoid skin cancer and enjoy the sun responsibly?
Sun radiation (ultraviolet or UV rays) is the main risk factor in developing cancerous skin lesions or malignant melanoma. It is the short and high exposure with frequent sunburns that increases the risk for malignant melanoma. Therefore avoiding sunburn is the most important advice.
Genetics also play a factor - patients with a diagnosed melanoma have a 10% chance that a close relative may also develop one. Therefore it is highly recommended for any diagnosed malignant melanoma that all first-degree relatives also have their moles checked.
People with fair skin that easily burn have a higher risk of developing melanoma than darker skinned people that always tan and rarely burn. Regularly using sunbeds is not advisable.
How can I spot skin cancer?
You should always get any pre-existing mole that has changed over time checked by your GP. Short-term changes (within three months) include any changes in the colour of the mole.
Longer-term changes, over six months, should include changes in size and of the borders of the mole as well as any colour changes.
Any new moles not present from birth should be checked thoroughly. It is very important to learn the moles of our body in order to be able to detect any changes. For people with many moles it is advisable to take sequential photographs on a six-monthly or annual basis and compare the photographs.
Early detection of skin cancer and in particular of malignant melanoma can make a huge difference in the treatment and outcome of this tumour.
Please enjoy the sun responsibly.