Skin Cancer Incidence in India
(Eyelids, Face, Arms, Legs, Scalp)
People in their 20s and 30s are generally not concerned about incidences of skin cancer. But according to a study which was conducted, there has been a large increase in the cases of skin cancer in young people. The increase has been in cancer of face and eyelid cancer. It is astonishing and unfortunate to see how commonplace the cases of skin cance4r have become. A harmless looking mole on the skin could be cancer. Almost 20 % of skin lesions which are removed are found to be cancerous. This study has been an eye opener to people with darker skin as it was previously thought that only people with lighter skin are more prone to skin cancer.
Melanin was thought to be protective against the ultraviolet rays. While it was observed that one in five Americans could develop skin cancer, the chances of an Indian developing the same were not that high because of higher concentration of melanin in the skin. But in a research conducted on over 2600 patients it was found that skin cancer is much more common. The most common form of cancer found was basal cell skin cancer. This type of cancer does not spread to other organs but if left untreated it can cause disfigurement. 5 % of people were found to have squamous skin cancer and melanoma, which is considered to be worst type of cancer, was found in 1.5% of people.
One very important find which is a great cause of concern is that most doctors do not send the lesion for pathology tests. 30% of patients who underwent surgery had previous presentation of disease but in almost half of these patients the samples were not sent to the lab. Patients also waited on an average for 9 months before approaching a doctor.
Basal cell carcinoma appears as pink bumps. Squamous cell cancer looks like a scab that does not heal. If it is not treated it can be potentially lethal. If one gets this at a young age, surgery is need. A form of eyelid cancer known as sebaceous cell carcinoma has been observed more in Indian population rather than western population.
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell are caused by prolonged direct exposure to the sun. If one does not go out in the sun, one can’t get this cancer. In the study the cancer was found on the exposed body parts. Sunlight is definitely important for production of Vitamin D in the body and also for cell division, but prolonged exposure to sun can cause cancer. Because of holes in ozone layer the ultraviolet rays can reach the earth more easily hence they are harmful.
Other causes may include skin lotions which are loaded with chemicals and tattoos. The blue ink for tattoo which is the most popular one contains cobalt and aluminum which are carcinogenic.
Patients should put on sunscreen generously on all body parts. Exposed body parts should be covered with umbrella/hat. Try to stay out of sun when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Not only the face and the body but the eyes should also be protected from the sun by sunglasses. Avoid taking abbacies younger than six months in the sun. If you observe a skin lesion see a doctor immediately. If a lesion is present for many years keep an eye on it to look for any change in its appearance. Get the lesion removed and ensure that it is tested in the lab.
Doctors should ensure that the lesion is tested pathologically. A doctor should be suspicious about every lesion.