Sun Damage and Cancer Diagnosis

The South African Sun

Too much sunlight can be harmful especially to the following patients:

  • People with fair skin that easily burns
  • People with personal history of cancer
  • People with lots of moles-more than 50
  • If you are being treated with immunosuppressant drugs

Harmful long term side effects

  • These include sun spots/ solar/ actinic keratosis
  • Advanced skin ageing is also seen with leathery, wrinkled and mottled skin
  • There is an increased risk of skin cancer

Prevention

  • Adopt better behaviour
  • Sunscreens are effective in preventing active sunburn and tanning. They can also help then to prevent/slow down sun ageing, sun damaged skin and skin cancer
  • Avoid the sun between 10 – 2pm when the UV radiation is at its peak
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat, seek the shade, use sunglasses and if possible UV protected clothes
  • In short be SUN SAVVY

Actinic / solar keratosis / sun damage

  • These present as red, scaley spots on sun damaged skin
  • Actinic keratosis are as a result of abnormal / atypical skin cell, as they develop
  • They are as a result of sun damage
  • Sun damage spots occur at sites of sun exposure eg: face, neck, ears hands and arms
  • They are very common in fair skinned patients who have a history of outdoor activity and who never wear applied sun block

What can happen to them?

  • Actinic keratosis can develop into a type of skin cancer

Treatment

There are multiple treatment options, please visit your dermatologist to discuss the above.

Basal Cell Cancer

This is also known as a rodent ulcer, and is very common in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand

Who gets it?

Patients who have spent years in the sun with no protection and especially the fair skinned patient. Thus they can appear on the sun damaged skin

There are various types of Basal Cell Cancers

Treatment

There are multiple treatment options and a full examination of the skin should be performed by a dermatologist