Skin Cancer Awareness Month – Early Detection Saves Lives; It Starts With You!
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and at Dubai London Clinic, we believe in enhancing skin cancer
diagnosis with Dermatoscopy.
An article by Dr. Bina Rabadia, Specialist Dermatologist.
The relationship between our skin and the sun is quite intricate. On the bright side, sun rays have
several beneficial effects on the skin, such as Vitamin D production. However, there is also a notorious
dark side; excessive exposure to sun rays poses substantial risks to our health, especially to our skin.
Ultraviolet radiation (UV) is one of those sun rays that we receive at the earth’s surface, yet we cannot
see nor feel it. The ozone layer is a region of the earth's atmosphere that absorbs most of the sun's
ultraviolet radiation before it reaches the surface. Nevertheless, we can still receive a sufficient amount
of this radiation that causes sunburn, skin damage, and more grave health conditions like skin cancer.
Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers globally and, to the distress of all, its incidence has
shown a substantial increase over the past decades. With repeated exposure to sunlight posing as a
prime suspect, climate changes, alterations in the thickness of the protective ozone shield, and changes
in people's social habits can explain the increased incidence.
People who live in regions with bright, year-round sunlight or those who spend a lot of time outdoors
without proper protection from the sun are at a higher risk. Skin cancer risk tends to increase with age
progression, and this is probably because of the accumulated exposure to UV radiation. By and large,
Caucasian populations have a much higher risk of getting skin cancer than dark-skinned populations due
to the relative lack of pigmentation in their skin. Dark-skinned people (skin types V and VI) can usually
tolerate relatively high levels of sun exposure without getting sunburnt or markedly raising their skin
cancer risk. In contrast, people with fair or freckled skin, light-coloured hair, and blue or hazel eyes fall
into the highest risk group (skin types I and II). However, excessive exposure to intense sunlight can do a
lot of harm to all skin types.
Moreover, some individual risk factors for skin cancer include a family history of skin cancer, a history of
severe sunburns, a tendency to burn rather than tan, having a large number of moles, as well as
individual lifestyle choices such as recurrent use of tanning beds.
This sunny part of the world is no exception! In the United Arab Emirates, skin cancer represents one of
the most common malignancies, with a prevalence rate of 14.5 per cent among males. The incidence of
skin cancer in the country is likely influenced by the large number of expatriate residents who comprise
the majority of the overall population. Sunbathing is a widespread practice here, especially among the
Western expatriates who mostly have fair skin, which is considered the most vulnerable, and this can
increase the incidence.
Because of the high average annual sunshine, people living in the UAE should take extra precautions to
reduce their risk of skin cancer.
EARLY DETECTION SAVES LIVES, AND IT STARTS WITH YOU!
Regular monitoring, both by monthly self-examination and regular skin cancer screening, should be
regarded as an essential part of your health care routine.
Examining your skin for suspicious changes can help detect skin cancer at its earliest stages; look for
anything new, changing or `unusual` on your skin. Common alarming skin signs include changes in the
appearance of the skin, such as a new growth. Any change in the size, shape, or colour of an existing skin
spot, or any new symptom related to it such as itching, crusting, or bleeding, should also raise a red flag.
Despite being helpful, please keep in mind that monthly self-examination is not enough by itself. You are
encouraged to have a regular skin cancer screening by your trusted dermatologist once a year, or more
often if you are at a higher risk of skin cancer. An annual skin examination takes only a few minutes, but
it can be all the difference between catching a life-threatening disease early and not. Your dermatologist
can either perform a full-body skin examination or inspect specific lesions that are of concern. In case a
suspicious mole is identified, it can be thoroughly assessed using the highly accurate dermatoscope.
Dermatoscopy is a useful, non-time consuming, pain-free and noninvasive imaging technique that
refers to the examination of your skin using a skin surface microscopy (known as the dermatoscope)
which enables the detailed visualization of subsurface skin structures that can be invisible to the
unaided eye. The dermatoscope is a handheld instrument with a transilluminating light source and
standard magnifying optics (10×), and its primary purpose is to accurately identify lesions that have a
high probability of being cancerous and help in differentiating them from benign lesions that may mimic
The skilled use of the dermatoscope has been shown to drastically improve diagnostic accuracy,
sensitivity, and specificity for skin cancer diagnosis and this is why it is now regarded as a standard in the
assessment of suspicious pigmented skin lesions by dermatologists. Nowadays, the application of
dermatoscopy in dermatology is gradually acquiring a role similar to the valuable use of stethoscopes by
Your skin health matters and it pays well to be aware.
Early detection of skin cancer markedly increases survival rates because it gives you the best chance for
successful skin cancer treatment. Talk to your trusted dermatologist who is qualified in dermatoscopy
and has experience in dermatoscopy, if you notice any skin lesion change that looks suspicious. Do not
wait, and more importantly, do not consider it of no significance!