Biology

How do you prevent skin cancer?

suntanThe Teenage Cancer Trust, which helps to care for young skin cancer sufferers, has kindly put together the following answer to this question.

Skin cancer is a cancer in the skin cells. There are two main types: malignant melanoma, which is the most serious type of skin cancer and usually develops in the outer layer of the skin; and non-melanoma skin cancer, which is more common and easily treated. Skin cancer is common in teenagers and young adults. It has also been shown that the damage done to the skin when young leads to skin cancer in later life.

What to look out for:

Changes in a mole – change in size, shape or colour

A mole that bleeds or becomes crusty

A new growth or sore that won’t heal
A spot, mole or sore that itches or hurts

Preventing skin cancer

The most common cause of skin cancer is exposure to too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation found in the sun’s rays and sun beds, which could increase the risk of the skin cells becoming cancerous. You can’t feel UV damaging your skin and it happens even through cloud or when the sun doesn’t feel hot. The UVA rays in the sun also damages the elasticity in your skin and causes premature wrinkling and sagging.

To avoid the pain and shame of the lobster look, follow these five simple steps…

  1. Cover up your skin
    Throw on a long sleeved shirt or top that ideally has a collar and a sarong or long shorts to banish those burning rays.
  2. Slap on the suncream
    Apply generous amounts of water resistant suncream of at least SPF30 and above, to clean, dry skin before going out in the sun.
  3. Wear a hat or cap
    Whether its a cowboy hat, a floppy hat or baseball cap, all are good at keeping the heat off your head, face, neck and ears.
  4. Slip on the shades
    Don’t forget, your eyes need protection too!
  5. Chill out in the shade
    When the sun’s rays are strongest between 11am and 3pm, head for the shade and sit under a tree or umbrella.