FAQ

  • What is skin cancer? Skin cancer develops when DNA, the molecule found in cells that encodes genetic information, becomes damaged and the body cannot repair the damage. These damaged cells begin to grow and divide uncontrollably. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer and occurrences are increasing annually.

 

  • What are the different kinds of skin cancer? The two main types of skin cancer are malignant melanoma (cancer in moles) and the non-melanoma group’s basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma.

 

  • What is a malignant melanoma? Malignant melanoma is a type of skin cancer that begins in the skin’s ‘pigmentation system’, i.e. the skin layer that becomes tanned in the summer. Melanomas usually start in moles or in areas of normal-looking skin. In rare cases the tumor may begin in the eyes, the respiratory passage, the intestine, or the brain. Malignant melanoma is a very dangerous type of cancer, and the patient’s chances of survival often depend on early discovery and treatment. Melanomas account for approximately 4% of all cancers but are — the primary cause of skin cancer deaths.

 

  • How many people are affected by skin cancer? Skin cancer is the most common cancer, accounting for nearly half of all cancers. Every year between 90-200 people out of 1,000 will be diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer.

 

  • How can I find put if I am at risk of developing skin cancer? There are three basic steps that you need to take. The first and easiest is to self-screen by using the ABCD rule to help you identify an abnormal, potentially pre-cancerous mole.
  • First, look for asymmetrical lesions; the different halves of the mole don’t look like each other
  • Then, look for border irregularity where the edges of the mole are indented or notched.
  • Next, look for color variation. The problematic mole is not the same color throughout and may have patches of different colors.
  • Finally, check to see if the diameter is larger than the size of a pencil eraser tip.

 

  • How do I protect myself from developing skin cancer? Although it is impossible to completely eliminate the possibility of skin cancer, the risk of developing it can be reduced significantly with the following steps:
    • Reduce exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, especially in early years
    • Avoid sunburns. Recent studies have shown that sunscreen does not protect from melanoma
    • Avoid sun exposure during the day (usually from 10 AM to 3 PM), when the sun is highest in the sky
    • Wear protective clothing (long sleeves and hats) when outdoors
    • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB radiation
    • Use a sun block of approximately SPF 50
    • Reapply sun block every two hours and after swimming

 

  • Does the color of my skin influence my risk for developing skin cancer? There is a common assumption that Caucasians are at a greater risk of developing skin cancer than dark-skinned people. However, recent research has negated this assumption. It is important to be aware and take precautionary measures at all times to prevent developing skin cancer.