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All about skin cancer

By Dr. Shirin Samimi-Fard

The skin and ultraviolet radiation

THE SKIN is the biggest organ of the human body. It covers up an area of approximately 1.7qm. Its main function is to protect us from enviromental influences. Each time skin is exposed to sun and becomes tanned or burned, damage is done to individual cells and to DNA.

What is skin cancer?

Skin cancer is a malignant tumor that grows in the skin cells and accounts for 50 per cent of all cancers. Sun radiation is a major risk factor for the development of skin cancer. It can affect  people at any age, is more common among the elderly but rarely seen in children. The cancer causes changes in skin texture or colour that can usually be seen with the naked eye. If treated early, 90 per cent of skin cancer can be cured.

Types of skin cancer

There are two main types of skin cancer, non melanoma (basal cell carcinoma + squamous cell carcinoma) and malignant melanoma (cancer in moles), as well as a carcinoma-in-situ or early stage of skin cancer (actinic keratosis).

What can I do?

• Avoid midday sun and wear protective clothing

• Use sunscreen lotions when you must be outdoors

• Use a broad spectrum sunscreen even on cloudy days and reapply it after swimming (SPF >15)

• Avoid sun exposure to UV radiation from sunlamps or tanning parlors

• Keep children out of excessive sun exposure when the sun is strongest

What is the outlook?

It is important that skin cancer is detected and treated as early as possible. For this reason, dear reader, it is advisable to check your moles routinely every six to 12 months by a dermatologist or whenever a new, changing, or worrisome skin lesion appears.

• For an appointment with Dr. Shirin Samimi-Fard, call the German Clinic II in Praia do Carvoeiro (Lagoa borough) on Tel 282 356 925, Fax 282 356 926, Mobile 963 770 589 or via e-mail: [email protected]