Quite often in Ireland we yearn for the summer sunshine but often, as soon as the sun arrives we find ourselves scarpering to load our BBQ’s and sun loungers back into storage! With the current good weather set to continue, it is important to be able to enjoy the sun. We can do this by ensuring we protect ourselves adequately from the sun’s damaging UV rays.
This doesn’t mean we have to avoid the sun completely. Sun exposure is the best natural source of vitamin D and is important for general health. We just need to make sure we think about how we can protect our skin when outside. Children in particular, need extra protection!
The Irish Cancer Society have a simple but effective SunSmart code which tells us to seek shade, cover up, wear sunglasses and sunscreen and check the UV Index to get the best protection possible. You can read more about it here: SunSmart Code
In Ireland each year there are approximately 10,000 diagnoses of skin cancer. Our Dermatologists, Plastic Surgeons and General Surgeons at Aut Even are often involved in the diagnoses and treatment of skin cancer. There are two main types of skin cancer and patients are often unsure of what the differences between these skin cancers are. Tp help we have outlined them both briefly here:
Non Melanoma Skin Cancer – In Ireland more than 8,000 people are diagnosed with a non-melanoma skin cancer each year.
The first sign of non-melanoma skin cancer is usually the appearance of a lump or patch on the skin that doesn’t heal after a few weeks. In most cases, cancerous lumps are red and firm, while cancerous patches are often flat and scaly. Non-melanoma skin cancers usually develop in the outermost layer of skin (epidermis) and are often named after the type of skin cell from which they develop. The two most common types of non-melanoma skin cancer are:
• basal cell carcinoma – starts in the cells lining the bottom of the epidermis (about 75% of skin cancers)
• squamous cell carcinoma – starts in the cells lining the top of the epidermis (about 20% of skin cancers)
Non-melanoma skin cancer is mainly caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. UV light comes from the sun, as well as artificial sunbeds and sunlamps.
Melanoma Skin Cancer – Melanoma refers to a cancer in the cells that make melanin. It usually starts on the surface of the skin, either in a mole or normal-looking skin. It can develop in other parts of the body,
but this is rare. If melanoma is diagnosed and treated early, there is a very good chance of a cure. But it can spread to other parts of your body or within the skin itself. Melanoma is also known as malignant melanoma and is one of the most common cancers among people aged 15–44.
The number of people in Ireland being diagnosed with melanoma has risen dramatically in the past few years. Each
year around approximately 1,000 cases of melanoma are diagnosed in Ireland. At present more women than men are affected.
Minding Your Skin
Our Surgeons, and indeed GP’s across the country are constantly encouraging people to get in the habit of doing regular self-checks of their skin.
Get to know your moles, where they are, and what they look like. Moles that get larger or change colour, texture,
or shape will be of particular interest to your Dermatologist, as well as any spots that are itching, oozing, or bleeding. It is important that you visit your GP if you have any skin abnormality that hasn’t healed after four weeks. Although
it is unlikely to be skin cancer, it is best to be sure.