Summer is coming, beach time, pool time and that our skin spend many hours in the sun. A practice that some adopt as a daily custom to obtain that long-awaited golden tone that the fashions have imposed. And that, beyond changing our appearance, can have worse consequences, since the ultraviolet rays (UVA and UVB) are not only responsible for our tan, they can also give rise to cell changes that predispose to cancer.
In the skin, this type of radiation can produce mutations in the genetic material of the cells that make it up, giving rise, for example, to a melanoma or cutaneous carcinoma, two of the most common cases in this oncological branch. That is why it is very necessary protect us and expose as little as possible to the direct rays of the sun, especially between 10:00 and 16:00 hours, the most harmful time slot and with the highest load of ultraviolet radiation.
In normal skin it is advisable to go gradually getting used to our dermis, increasing that exposure by 10 minutes a day. And always carrying sunscreen cream, the higher the better, especially in children and in those with delicate health and sensitive skin. It should be applied half an hour before starting to sunbathe and repeat the process frequently, especially after the bath.
It is also advisable to use protective accessories: hats and caps for our head; sunglasses for the sensitive contour of the eyes; and light garments that prevent direct reception of harmful radiation. On the other hand, it is advisable to take an adequate diet to help us alleviate the negative effects of the sun king: green vegetables and foods rich in vitamin C They should not be missing in our summer diet.
When should I consult with the specialist?
The oncological varieties of the skin are manifested in very diverse ways, although a spot, scab or spontaneous ulcer, or the growth of moles should alert us. As the Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC) reminds us, melanomas usually present very characteristic lesions known by the rule of A, B, C, D, E: Asymmetry, Irregular edges, Color varied, Diameter greater than six millimeters and Evolution with change of appearance.
If we detect any lesion with any of these characteristics, it is important that we contact our dermatologist as soon as possible, especially since an early diagnosis is decisive in curing this type of cancer. It is important that we are attentive to any alteration that occurs in our skin, self-scan not only controlling the size of our usual moles, but also looking for other irregularities.
For example, in the case of carcinomas, reddish spots usually appear that can flake and bleed; prominent and rounded nodules; and ulcers that do not heal. This variety of skin cancer is usually one of the most frequent of the human being, which normally appears after 50 years in people who work exposed to the sun (field workers, construction workers, fishermen …). The lesions are usually located on the face, neck and hands.
On the other hand, melanoma has an enormous relationship with this custom we adopted in the summer of sunbathing excessively to get dark. The affected cells are the melanocytes or cells that produce melanin, which gives the skin its color. Solar radiation can alter their DNA and cause them to start dividing and growing out of control.
They tend to develop in people with fair skin and eyes who have difficulty tanning and who have suffered sunburns, especially in childhood and adolescence. In addition, the risk of suffering from it increases in advanced ages. Also if there is a family history of this type of tumor; if you have a large number of moles, greater than 50; or if you have xeroderma pigmentosum, a hereditary disease that affects the ability of skin cells to repair the damage to your DNA.
In short, it is tremendously important that we avoid solar radiation whenever we can and that we take the appropriate prevention measures, both for us and for those under our care, whether they are older or younger. We play the health of our skin.
Adriana Terrádez is the director of OncoDNA for Spain and Portugal (formerly BioSequence), she is a born entrepreneur and the pioneer in Spain of the introduction of advanced genomic diagnostic tools for the personalized treatment of cancer patients.