The Marilyn Denis Show - Sun Damage and Skin Cancer: July 9, 2015
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The Marilyn Denis Show -  Sun Damage and Skin Cancer: July 9, 2015

By Marilyn.ca

Dermatologist, Dr. Lisa Kellett, discusses sun damage and skin cancer with tips on how to protect one of your most delicate organs.

Skin Cancer Facts

  • Skin cancer is by far the most common cancer
  • One in five people will develop a basal cell skin cancer
  • Among fair-haired types, as many as 60 to 70% per cent will have pre-cancerous spots
  • There is a connection between childhood sunburns and adult cases of skin cancer
  • Melanoma is one of the fastest rising cancers in Canada; affecting one in 73 women in their lifetime with one in 395 dying from it
  • People who are most at risk are those with fair skin or freckles and those who spend a lot of time in the sun, use indoor tanning, or live in a hot climate
  • Anyone can get skin cancer, even people who have darker skin types

Tan vs. Sunburn

  • A tan is an indication of cellular damage; darkened pigment is your skin’s way of fending off further damage
  • Sunburns are an indicator of deeper damage, to the point where cells have been killed
  • UV damage extends to skin well below the threshold of the sunburn
  • One blistering sunburn before the age of 18 doubles your risk of malignant melanoma later in life
  • Some prescription drugs can cause photosensitivity and increase your risk of burning

What is skin cancer and how can you spot it?

  • Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells due to mutations in their DNA
  • UV radiation is the leading cause of skin cancer
  • There is a clear link between locations of accumulative UV exposure and the most common skin cancers, basal cell carcinoma (head and neck regions) and squamous cell carcinoma (face and neck, backs of hands)
  • Melanoma, which is the most deadly form of skin cancer, can occur anywhere but most often occurs on faces, women’s lower legs and men’s trunks.
  • In general, any new skin lesion or a change in a pre-existing lesion (such as a change in size, shape, colour or border) can be a cause for concern
  • Skin lesions with an irregular border, asymmetry, multiple colours, a very black colour or bleeding might be a possibly life-threatening malignant melanoma – have a proper assessment with a dermatologist
  • Don’t treat brown spots or red spots at a spa; see a dermatologist just in case they are skin cancer

Sunscreen Basics

  • Wear SPF 30+ year round – don’t forget your chest, neck and the backs of legs and hands
  • Wear sunscreen even if it’s cloudy because up to 80% of the sun’s rays can still pass through, even when it’s raining
  • Use about a shot glass full of sunscreen for a normal application
  • Lip balm with sunscreen can also be used around your eyes and underneath your nose
  • Water doesn’t filter out the UV light so you should always wear waterproof SPF before and after entering and exiting water to minimize the risk of sunburn, skin damage and maybe even skin cancer

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