Basal Cell Carcinoma
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the incidence of both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers have been increasing over the past few decades. Currently, between 2 and 3 million non-melanoma skin cancers and 132,000 melanoma skin cancers occur globally each year. One in every three cancers diagnosed is skin cancer.
As ozone levels are depleted, the atmosphere loses more and more of its protective filter function and more solar UV radiation reaches the Earth’s surface. The ozone layer protects us from the harmful effects of certain wavelengths of ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun. The danger to human skin from ultraviolet radiation comes mainly from the UVB range of the spectrum, although UVA poses some risk if exposure is long enough. Any significant decrease of ozone in the stratosphere would result in an increase of UVB radiation reaching the Earth’s surface, and of skin cancers. The global incidence of melanoma continues to increase – however, the main factors that predispose the development of melanoma seem to relate to recreational exposure to the sun and a history of sunburn.
The Warning Signs
A skin growth that increases in size and appears pearly, translucent, tan, brown, black, or multicoloured
A mole, birthmark, beauty mark, or any brown spot that:
- changes colour
- increases in size or thickness
- changes in texture
- is irregular in outline
- is bigger than 6mm, the size of a pencil eraser
- appears after age 21
A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, crust, scab, erode or bleed
An open sore that does not heal within three weeks
Approximately 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancer that forms in the lower part of the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin) or in squamous cells, but not in melanocytes skin cells that pigment (associated with exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun). According to the Skin Cancer Foundation (1979), it is imperative to recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher as one important part of a complete sun protection regimen. However, sunscreen alone is not enough.
- Stay in the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM.
- Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths.
- Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
- Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day.
For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
- Apply roughly 2 tablespoons of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside.
Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
- Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreen should be used on babies over the age of six months.
- Examine your skin every month.
- See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.