Experts at the University of Texas have provided some useful tips on prevention of skin cancer with lifestyle changes and expounded upon some of its risk factors and treatment.
According to them although the environment plays a role in development of skin cancer individuals who have a family history of melanoma have a greater disposition towards developing skin cancer because of certain inherited chromosomes and gene mutations. The risk is greater for people with light-colored skin that is prone to freckles.
Skin cancer, which develops in the epidermal layer, is known as non-melanoma whereas cancer of the melanocyte is known as melanoma with non-melanomas more common in parts of body such as the face, which is more frequently exposed to sunlight. Melanoma, rarer, although more life threatening, occur in areas less often exposed to sunlight, such as chest or back in men and thigh, calves etc in women.
Changes in pattern of moles, freckles and other blemishes must be noted as symptoms of skin cancers vary from one individual to another. Melanoma cancers usually begin with a change in shape, borders, color and even size of moles and other blemishes.
Beside sun exposure other risk factors are light-colored skin, large number of typical or atypical moles, occupational hazards like exposure to coal, tar, pitch, radioactive materials and three or more blistering sunburns by age 18.
Both the UVA and the UVB rays of the sun contribute to sunburns. Therefore people who live in the equatorial region, which receives maximum sunrays, have the highest risk of skin cancer.
Tanning beds have been rated to be as dangerous as sun exposure for developing skin cancer.
Research has also shown that sunscreens with an SPF of 30 gives protection from harmful UV rays if applied about 30 minutes before sun exposure and reapplied every 60 to 90 minutes, or after a swim or profuse perspiration, although the sunscreen may be advertised to be waterproof and sweat-proof. In addition effective sunscreen must contain the ingredients octylcrylene, benzophenone or avobenzone.
Besides sunscreen use of dark colored clothes especially 100 percent polyester, broad-brimmed hats and sunglasses are also recommended. Sun-blocking clothes that have sun protection woven into the fabric have also been shown to provide protection of about 95% of UVB rays.
Research has also demonstrated that certain vitamins and phytochemicals may provide additional protection. Compounds such as resveratrol and curcumin occurring naturally in certain foods have been linked to anti-cancer activity.
A new UV protection compound known as TINOSORB(r) FD has proved to be beneficial when used in a regular wash cycle. It has been demonstrated to block up to96 percent of the sun's harmful rays even up to 20 washes.
Although skin cancers are uncommon in children, frequent and long term exposure may be the foundation of skin cancers as an adult. Therefore babies must not be exposed to direct sunlight.
Children above six months of age can use sunscreen of about SPF 15, with sun protective clothing and limited time sun exposure especially between 10 a.m. and 4pm.
Skin biopsies aid in the diagnosis of skin cancers with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and photodynamic therapies being the common modes of treatment
. The M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston has been ranked among America's top two cancer hospitals in the U.S. News & World Report.