Busting Myths About Skin Cancer

drkmh Busting Myths About Skin Cancer

 

While sun exposure is a significant risk factor, skin cancer can develop in areas that are not typically exposed to the sun as well.

Skin cancer is a condition characterized by the abnormal growth of skin cells, typically caused by damage from ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. There are three main types of skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.

 

  • Basal cell carcinoma usually appears as a pearly or waxy bump, often with visible blood vessels, on the face, ears, neck, or other sun-exposed areas. It may also appear as a flat, flesh-coloured, or brown scar-like lesion.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma often presents as a firm, red nodule or a flat lesion with a scaly or crusty surface. It can develop on sun-exposed areas, including the face, ears, lips, and back of the hands.
  • Melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, often begins as a new mole or an existing mole that changes in size, shape, or colour. It may have irregular borders and may be multi-coloured, with shades of brown, black, red, blue, or white. Melanoma can occur anywhere on the body, including areas not exposed to the sun.

Other symptoms of skin cancer may include sores that do not heal, bleeding or oozing lesions, itching, tenderness, or pain. In advanced stages, skin cancer can spread to nearby lymph nodes or other organs, causing additional symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, difficulty breathing, or abdominal pain.

 

Early detection of skin cancer is crucial for successful treatment. Regular self-examinations of the skin, paying attention to any changes in moles or the appearance of new lesions, can help in detecting skin cancer at its earliest stages. Any suspicious lesions should be evaluated promptly by a dermatologist. Additionally, practicing sun safety, such as wearing sunscreen, protective clothing, and staying in the shade, can help reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.

 

Myths and Facts about Skin Cancer

 

Several myths exist about skin cancer that can lead to misconceptions and misunderstanding about the condition. Here are some common myths:

 

  • Myth #1: Only fair-skinned people get skin cancer.

    Fact: While fair-skinned individuals are at higher risk, people of all skin types can develop skin cancer.

  • Myth #2: Skin cancer only occurs in areas exposed to the sun.

    Fact: While sun exposure is a significant risk factor, skin cancer can develop in areas that are not typically exposed to the sun, such as the palms, soles of the feet, under the nails, and even inside the mouth.

  • Myth #3: You cannot get skin cancer on a cloudy day.

    Fact: UV rays can penetrate clouds, so even on cloudy days, you can still be at risk of skin damage and skin cancer.

  • Myth #4: Skin cancer is not a serious disease.

    Fact: Skin cancer can be deadly if not detected and treated early. Melanoma can spread rapidly if not caught early.

  • Myth #5: Only older people get skin cancer.

    Fact: While the risk of skin cancer increases with age, it can affect people of all ages, including children and young adults.

  • Myth #6: If a mole does not change, it is not cancerous.

    Fact: While changes in a mole can indicate cancer, not all cancerous moles undergo visible changes. It is important to regularly check moles and see a dermatologist if you notice any new or changing moles.

  • Myth #7: Wearing sunscreen prevents skin cancer entirely.

    Fact: While wearing sunscreen with a high SPF can significantly reduce the risk of skin cancer, it does not eliminate the risk entirely. Sunscreen should be used in conjunction with other protective measures like seeking shade and wearing protective clothing. Also, it may be advisable to reapply sunscreen after a couple of hours for better protection.

  • Myth #8: Skin cancer only affects the skin.

    Fact: In advanced stages, certain types of skin cancer, such as melanoma, can spread to other parts of the body, potentially causing serious complications or death.

  • Myth #9: Skin cancer always looks like a mole.

    Fact: Skin cancer can take various forms, including sores that do not heal, bumps, or patches of skin that are red, scaly, or bleed easily. It is important to be aware of the different manifestations of skin cancer.

It is crucial to educate oneself about skin cancer, its risk factors, and how to detect it early for effective prevention and treatment. Regular skin checks by a dermatologist and practicing sun safety are key steps in reducing the risk of skin cancer.

 

CONSULTANT - DERMATOLOGY at Dr.Kamakshi Memorial Hospitals
Reviewed By:

DR.PARTHIBANRAJ RAGUNATHAN

PROF. CONSULTANT – DERMATOLOGY

MBBS., MD