Have you ever wondered what causes skin cancer? Our resident expert and Consultant Dermatologist, Dr Vikram Rajokomar, explains “It is proven that sun rays cause DNA damage in melanocytes, the cells which produce pigment in the skin. Repeated damage increases the risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer.” Skin cancer is primarily triggered by overexposure to sunlight. This is especially when it results in sunburn and blistering but any change in the colour of the skin can be a sign of DNA damage, so even tanning is risky!
You can be exposed to the harmful effects of UV whether you are sunbathing in your back garden, using a sunbed or even when you are just out and about in cloud.
Factors which can increase the risk
- Previous skin cancer
- Family history of skin cancer
- Pale skin that burns easily
- Medication that suppresses your immune system
- Co-existing medical conditions that suppress your immune system
How it can be identified
Skin cancer develops on areas of skin which are regularly exposed to sunlight, such as the face, upper chest, back and shoulders. First signs typically include the appearance of a lump or discoloured patch which grows progressively. You should see a GP if you have any skin abnormalities that haven’t healed after 4 weeks; the earlier skin cancer is diagnosed, the easier it is to treat!
How It Can Be Prevented
Dr Vikram Rajokomar specialises in the treatment of skin diseases and skin cancer at Pall Mall Medical. He states that there is a direct correlation between sunbed use and skin cancer. Rajokomar further emphasises that “there is no responsible way of achieving a ‘natural’ tan that results from overexposing yourself to harmful UV rays”. Thus, It is advised that in order to prevent skin cancer, exposure to all sources of UV should be reduced to a minimum.
The majority of the time, lumps or any skin abnormalities will turn out to be harmless, but it is always wise to get it checked.
Pall Mall Medical offers same, or next day appointments, six days a week and your results returned promptly, meaning that we can quickly get you on the right track should any treatment or further investigation be required.