Prevent Melanoma? These tips from a Dermatologist may help you | Sunday Observer
Medi Snips:

Prevent Melanoma? These tips from a Dermatologist may help you

8 May, 2022

Following fears from the reported surge in Melanoma worldwide and in Asian countries as well, oncologists have come together to offer some useful and valuable guidelines on how to prevent this skin cancer which is mostly caused by too much sun exposure.

The Sunday Observer asked leading Consultant Dermatologist Dr Januka Galahitiyawa whose full length article also appears on the main section of this page, to share some of her expertise on the subject.

Our first question to her was if it was correct that over exposure of the skin to the sun’s ultraviolet rays was a leading cause and eventually could lead to skin cancer .

In reply she said, “ Studies have shown that when your skin is unprotected from the sun, ultraviolet (UV) radiation can damage your DNA. If the body is unable to repair this damage the cell can begin to divide and grow in an uncontrolled way. This growth can eventually form a tumour.”

“UV radiation is made up of UVA and UVB rays which can penetrate the skin and cause permanent damage, contributing to melanoma and other skin cancers, sunburn, skin ageing and eye damage, UVA penetrates deeply into the skin (the dermis) causing genetic damage to cells, photo-ageing (wrinkling, blotchiness etc) and immune-suppression. UVB penetrates the top layer of the skin (the epidermis) causing damage to the cells. UVB is responsible for sunburn – a significant risk factor for skin cancer, especially melanoma.”, she added.

Asked if we could prevent Melanoma she said,” No one can prevent melanoma entirely: sometimes it happens because of a genetic mutation, which is beyond your control. However, some melanomas are related to sunlight’”

Medi snips then asked if there were some tips which she could offer to prevent over exposure to the harmful Ultraviolet Rays.( UVR).

In reply , she gave us the following guidelines :

  • You should never use tanning beds or artificial tanning machines: they expose your skin to very strong UV light and have been linked to skin cancer.
  • Staying indoors or in the shade as much as possible between 11 am and 3 pm.
  •  Try not to get sunburnt at all.
  •  Covering with clothes and a wide-brimmed hat when out in the sunshine.
  •  Applying sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 (SPF 30 for children or people with pale skin) which also has high ultraviolet A (UVA) protection.

These tips are particularly relevant to children and teenagers - particularly teenagers who might be tempted to use sun tanning booths: don’t do it.

However, avoiding all sunlight is generally not a good idea and, even if you have a family history of melanoma, probably won’t reduce your risk to zero.

If there is a suspected lesion , like a wart, mole, lump in the skin you should get immediate medical opinion from a dermatologist. Sri Lankan doctors have the expertise. Don’t wait .Go to any OPD which has a skin clinic and get yourself diagnosed first to rule out any other skin infection. Today with so much advance in treatments Melanoma is among the most curable cancers and often with just the first removal of the lesions most patients are free of the disease.”