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SKIN HEALTH - Why prevention is so important

Skin health
Skin health

Summary

Skin is the biggest organ of the body, It shields us from infections, regulates body temperature, and rebuilds itself on a monthly basis. The skin is very delicate and needs to be protected thoroughly from environmental factors in order to avoid diseases. One of these factors is exposure to UV rays, as sunburns are among the most frequent reasons of skin cancer. Knowing what to look for on your own skin might help you spot cancer early when it’s easiest to treat.

Introduction

The skin was only recently recognized as a separate organ. Still, we take the remarkable properties of skin for granted. It shields us from infections, regulates body temperature, and rebuilds itself on a monthly basis. Skin is the body’s largest organ and it is linked to other organs and its derivatives such as hair, glands, nails, and nerve endings.

The skin is very delicate and needs to be protected thoroughly from environmental factors in order to avoid diseases. One of these factors, and maybe the most impacting one, is the exposure to UV rays, as sunburns are among the most frequent reasons of skin cancer.

Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of damaged skin cells that usually develops on skin exposed to the sun. There are three major types of skin cancer: squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and melanoma. It is highly important to be cautious, especially during the summertime. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 5 sunburns can more than double the risk of developing skin cancer.

Skin Cancer Detection

Unlike other cancers that form internally, skin cancer forms externally and is usually visible. The majority of skin cancers can be treated if detected early, thus regular skin exams are crucial. Knowing what to look for on your own skin might help you spot cancer early when it’s easiest to treat before it becomes harmful or fatal.
Any irregular changes to the skin may be alarming, but specifically pay attention to marks growing in size, changing shape, developing discoloration, or irritation.

Skin Cancer Prevention

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, applying sunscreen when exposed to UV rays helps lower the risk of developing skin cancers and skin precancers. Consistent daily use of SPF 15 sunscreen can reduce the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) by about 40%, and lower melanoma risk by 50%.
Follow the Cancer Council’s recommendations for sunscreen: choose one that is broad-spectrum (filters both UVA and UVB rays), water-resistant, and contains an SPF of 30 or higher.

What Is SPF And What Do The Numbers Mean?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor and the number indicates how long it would take the sun’s UV radiation to redden your skin if you used the product as prescribed versus how long it would take if you didn’t use any sunscreen. To put it simply, if you’re wearing SPF 30, it should take you 30 times longer to burn than if you’re not.

Facts About Sunscreen

Sunscreen contains active ingredients that help shield your skin from the sun’s UV rays. The two categories of sunscreen (based on how they function) are chemical sunscreen and mineral sunscreen.

The ingredients of chemical sunscreen such as avobenzone and octisalate soak up UV rays before they can damage the skin. This type of sunscreen is thin and suitable for everyday use, it is absorbed into the skin, and it enables skincare ingredients to be placed on top.

On the other hand, mineral sunscreen ingredients such as the minerals titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, prevent and scatter the rays before they penetrate the skin. This type of sunscreen reflects UV and UVB rays, sits on top of the skin and works right away. However, it is prone to wearing off easily and thus, reapplication is necessary.

Mineral sunscreens are excellent for people who have sensitive or acne-prone skin but they tend to be thicker and may leave a white cast behind. Chemical sunscreens are lighter and more suitable for everyday use; however, they may cause irritation in sensitive or acne-prone skin.

Facts About Skin Cancer

1. Having 5 or more sunburns can double the risk of melanoma
2. If you notice new, changing, or unusual marks it could be skin cancer
3. Skin cancer is noticeable
4. Some people are more prone to sunburns than others
5. Actinic keratoses are usually more easily felt than seen

Frequently Asked Questions

What causes skin cancer?
Like many cancers, skin cancer occurs when damaged cells grow uncontrollably. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or tanning beds causes the majority of skin cell damage.

Is melanoma considered skin cancer?

Yes. Melanoma is an uncommon yet a very aggressive form of skin cancer.

What other types of skin cancer are there?

Basal cell carcinomas: these malignancies arise in the cells just beneath the skin’s surface and are the most common type of skin cancer.

Squamous cell carcinomas: squamous cells can also be seen in the throat, digestive and respiratory tract linings, and important organs such as the liver and kidneys.

Merkel cell carcinomas: this disease is an aggressive kind of skin cancer, despite its rarity. Merkel cells, also known as touch cells, are positioned beneath the epidermis, close to nerve endings, and are responsible for the skin’s capacity to perceive touch.

Kaposi’s sarcoma: purplish blotches or lesions on the skin (typically on the face or legs) can indicate this type of skin cancer, although it can also develop inside the mouth or in lymph nodes. Lesions in the lungs can occur in rare circumstances, causing breathing difficulties.

Lymphoma of the skin: this cancer might show up on the skin as red or purple patches, moles, or pimples that itch or ulcerate. Fatigue and weight loss are two more possible symptoms.

What are the skin cancer treatment options?

Skin cancer treatments vary greatly based on the cells involved and the stage of the disease. A dermatologist can treat most basal cell or squamous cell carcinomas in an ambulant way. Local excision or cryotherapy, which employs an extremely cold chemical such as liquid nitrogen to freeze and destroy cancer cells, can be used to remove the affected area. Advanced basal or squamous cell tumours may necessitate more invasive operations and therapies. Melanomas and Merkel cell carcinomas may necessitate a thorough excision and lymph node removal during surgery. Finally, melanomas and Merkel cell carcinoma can be treated with chemotherapy, radiation, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy.

Immucura offers advanced immunotherapy for skin cancer patients. In the past years we have successfully supported patients with skin cancer.

Immucura and a growing number of medical professionals feel that immunotherapy is the future of cancer treatment. If you have any questions regarding Dendritic Cell Therapy, email to: info@immucura.com

References

*British skin foundation
*The guardian’s seven ways to prevent skin cancer
*Skin cancer foundation
*Byrdie
*Cancer treatment centers of America

To read about patients’ experiences with immunotherapy click here

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