Skin cancer

Skin cancerBasal-cell carcinoma or basalioma is the most common type of skin cancer and it develops from the basal cells inside the subcutaneous tissue. It is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in the world, and it surpasses lung cancer, breast cancer, colorectal cancer and prostate cancer in the number of discovered cases. In Europe there are more than one million new cases of basalioma per year. Obviously the reason for this lies not only in the recognition of the disease, but also in its notation into registries, where the situation is far from optimal. Additionally the occurrence of basalioma in the past 25 years has more than doubled. Approximately two thirds of patients develop basalioma in body parts most exposed to the sun; one third develops it in unexposed body parts as a result of genetic predisposition. Basalioma is a slow growing tumour which rarely metastasizes. In most cases it is non-invasive, however approximately half of the patients develop new primary lesions within five years. Most commonly it appears in the upper two thirds of the face – mostly the nasal area, more rarely on the cheek or forehead.

Dermatologist’s caution: there is no such thing as a healthy tan

Skin cancer most usually develops in the epidermis, and this is why these tumours are visible to the human eye and easily noticed during self-examination. Clinically it is shown as a shiny, pearly knot, a red eczema or a thickening of the skin. A final diagnosis is based on a biopsy of the cancerous tissue. Each change of the skin which does not heal after an injury, each discoloration of the skin and each change of an existing blemish is cause to alert your personal doctor. Much like with other types of cancer, the early discovery of basalioma infinitely helps the results of the treatment and it makes complete recovery a very real possibility.

The most important risk factor for the development of skin cancer is an excessive exposure to the sun and to ultraviolet radiation (UV). It is important to note that the artificial UV radiation in a tanning salon has the same effect as the UV radiation of the sun. Dermatologists caution against exposure to UV rays and warn that there is no such thing as a healthy tan – every tan is actually burnt, damaged skin.

Other risk factors are a light complexion, a positive family medical history, sunburns during childhood, pre-cancerous skin changes and a weakened immune system.

Prevention and therapy

The most dangerous risk factor, one who plays a very important part in the creation of skin cancer, is excessive exposure to the sun and to UV rays. Individuals with lighter or ginger hair colour are in the highest risk group, along with those who have a tendency to freckles, those with a lighter complexion and those who quickly develop sun burns.

Regular self-examination of the skin and mucous membrane is the best preventive measure. If you notice an unusual change in a mole and suspect that it might be cancerous, use the ABCDE rule of pigmentary changes classification. Here A means asymmetry, B means borders, C means colour, D means diameter and E means elevation or the lifting of the mark on the body.

Avoidance of artificial UV lights in tanning salons is highly recommended, as well as avoidance of the sun during summer months between 11 am and 4 pm.

During walks and exposure to extreme sunlight it is very important to protect yourself with appropriate clothing, head-covering and protective sun glasses.

Protect your exposed body parts with protective sunscreens, sun blocks, lotions, milks or sprays. Make sure to apply whichever product you are using in an appropriate quantity and in regular time intervals. When using these products, be careful that you use a high enough protection factor and that they protect you from both UVA (they cause DNA damage) and UVB (they cause sunburn) radiation.

Similarly to other types of cancer the risk of fatal forms of skin cancer is reduced by quitting smoking.

We highly recommend that you see a doctor if your mole is asymmetrical, if it has uneven borders, uneven coloration, changes or grows rapidly or elevates to the high of the skin.