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Practise sun protection to prevent skin cancer

13/07/2022 11:33 AM

By Atira Khalisha Nor Adnan

KUALA LUMPUR, July 13 (Bernama) – Some may think that getting a rash is normal, but it may be an early sign of skin cancer.

Nur Syahidah Rashid, 21, never expected that the butterfly-shaped rash on her cheek and itchiness she developed when she was 14 years old would result in her receiving chemotherapy till now.

“I didn’t think it was a major problem because I thought it was caused by the hot weather. I went to a clinic and the doctor only prescribed me an antibiotic cream and fever medicine.

“But after six months, the skin all over my body started to peel and bleed so my mum took me to a hospital where they did a urine test because my condition was getting worse,” said the stage four cancer patient.

After four days of medical tests, chronic skin cancer was confirmed. Nur Syahidah said she accepts her fate due to a low awareness of symptoms.

 

MORE COMMON THAN WE THINK

Based on the National Strategic Plan for Cancer Control Programme statistics, skin cancer (non-melanoma) was among the 10 most common types of cancer in Malaysia and accounted for 3 percent of cases in males and females from 2012 - 2016.

Avisena Specialist Hospital consultant dermatologist, Dr Kartini Farah Rahim, said that advanced dermatology tools and histological techniques helped in the detection of cancer.

“That is why cancer cases are on the rise compared to before,” she said.

An-Nur Specialist Hospital consultant dermatologist, Dr Nur Ashikin Ahmad, agreed and said that it was also because of general awareness about the early symptoms.

“People have become more careful now because of what they read on social media. So if they feel something is wrong, they will get expert advice,” she said.  

 

SUNSCREEN IS IMPORTANT  

There are many risk factors for skin cancer including overexposure to the sun, occupational exposure, immunosuppressants, genetics and lifestyle.

Dr Kartini Farah said that sunscreen can help block the absorption of ultraviolet (UV) rays, but enough must be applied to the skin.

“To get maximum protection, sunscreen must be reapplied after sweating (heavily) and activities like swimming.

“Many people expose themselves to the hot sun and think that their sunscreen gives them protection all day long without any need for reapplication,” she said, while adding that it is a necessary precaution for people suffering from photosensitivity such as those suffering from lupus and skin cancer, as well as those receiving immunosuppressive therapy after a transplant.

Aside from sunscreen, Dr Nur Ashikin said it would also be a good idea to use an umbrella, a hat or long-sleeved top.

“Although we’re using a sunscreen on our face, it doesn’t provide 100 percent protection. Just like a tinted car window, ultraviolet A (UVA) rays can still penetrate the glass,” she said.

 

DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT

While some people worry that using a sunscreen may cause cancer, Dr Kartini Farah said it has a good safety profile.

“An unsuitable product would cause skin irritation or trigger allergic contact dermatitis, but it's rare.

“Reactions normally occur because of the product’s preservatives, fragrances or other ingredients, just like in cosmetics.

In defense of sunscreen, Nur Syahidah said that using a sunscreen has helped "to reduce skin redness" due to her skin cancer’s reaction to sunlight.

-- BERNAMA


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