Brits have been hoping for a change in scenery from the dreary and depressing weather we’ve had as lockdown laws ease up. The upcoming bank holiday might just be what we’ve been waiting for.
It’s been quite a while since we’ve had *consistent* warm weather. The past few months have been riddled with rain and windy weather but temperatures are predicted to rise up to the mid-twenties in the coming days.
This provides a great opportunity to go out and get involved with Local and Community History month! As mentioned last week, The Historical Association encourages people to research, learn and promote local areas during the month of May.
But, as with everything, even simply exploring your local area must be done with care. Warmer weather should be enough to convince you to be committed to protecting your skin but in case it’s not, May is also Skin Cancer Awareness Month! More specifically, today of all days is Sunscreen Day!
Keep an eye out for brands that put their sun protection products on promotion so you can stock up on essentials for being out and about this weekend!
Now, to switch up the Thursday Mood ever so slightly, here is some heavy but useful information about skin cancer so you can safely enjoy warm weather this weekend and the warm weekend after that too!
Skin cancer is the uncontrollable growth in the outermost layer of skin. The mutation leads to malignant skin cells (tumours). The main types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC).
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer. These cancers develop in areas typically exposed to the sun such as the face, ears, neck, shoulders and back.
Squamous cell carcinomas are also found in common sun-exposed areas where the skin reveals signs of sun damage, including wrinkles and age spots. It is estimated that in 2020 there was an increase of 6.6% of new cases of diagnosed non-melanoma skin cancers such as BCCs AND SCCs.
Squamous cell carcinomas can grow rapidly and metastasize if not detected and treated early. Both BCC and SCCs are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun.
Fortunately, there are ways to decrease your exposure to UV Radiation such as avoiding indoor tanning. You should also try covering your skin. There are different and new advanced fabrics that are breathable and temperature appropriates you may want to consider wearing, especially if you’re more at risk (i.e.over the age of 50). Similarly, take refuge in the shade when possible. Lastly, be sure to regularly apply a generous amount of sunscreen to all exposed skin.
Melanoma can appear as moles or on normal-looking skin and can be found on any part of the body, not just the areas exposed to the sun. Melanoma occurs when DNA damage from burning or tanning due to UV Radiation triggers changes in the melanocytes, resulting in uncontrolled cell growth.
Melanoma is curable when detected early. To be able to detect signs of melanoma early, it is important to self evaluate your skin regularly. There are a number of warning signs to look out for such as borders (melanomas have scalloped or notched edges) and if the melanoma is evolving or changing in appearance.
Once again, be wary of increased exposure to UV radiation as well as increased risk due to a weak immune system or fair skin. Also, if you have many moles or new moles, you may be more at risk of melanoma so be sure to diligently check your body regularly.
Lastly, Merkel cell carcinoma is a rare and aggressive form of skin cancer. With MCC, there is a high risk of returning or metastasizing, often within a couple of years of diagnosis. MCC tumours often, but not always, appear in sun-exposed areas. These tumours are not distinctive from other skin cancers and can appear as a pearly-like lump. MCCs are said to be three to five times more deadly than melanoma.
You may be more at risk of MCC if you have a history of other forms of skin cancer. As mentioned, UV exposure can put you more at risk of MCC as well as weakening your immune system, which puts you at risk as well. Immunosuppression and MCC are linked so if you have suffered from other diseases such as HIV and leukaemia, you may also be more at risk of MCC.
Take extra care when observing your skin and notify medical personnel should note any changes if you notice any changes on lesions on your skin.
So, by all means, go out and search your communities and enjoy the easing of lockdown measures this bank holiday, but be sure to remain vigilant in caring for your skin this Skin Cancer Awareness Month and beyond!