The incidence of skin cancer has increased dramatically during the past two decades. As the incidence of skin cancers increase every year, it is now more important than ever to define an accurate aetiology of skin cancer to pave the way for appropriate preventative measures to be taken.
People with light coloured skin, hair and eyes are at a greater risk for skin cancer due to decreased melanin production. Age and gender also can inﬂuence the risk for skin cancer. Typically, men and the elderly are at the highest risk, although people of all ages can develop the disease. Having a family history of skin cancer is another predisposing factor for the disease. Also, history of sunburns and long immunosuppressive conditions or treatments increase the risk of a skin cancer development. Smokers are at an increased risk for developing squamous cell carcinoma perhaps due to its immunosuppressive effects.
Ozone layer depletion has allowed an increased penetrance to UVB, thereby increasing its chance for causing harmful sunburns. UV radiation damages DNA and disables it from repair, thereby permitting uncontrolled cell growth and allowing the development of skin cancer. Indoor tanning and sunlamp usage, though meant to provide an alternative to natural UV exposure, is also harmful due to over usage.
Atypical moles constitute a clinical and histological spectrum of melanocytic nevi between ordinary (benign) nevi and melanoma and are important risk markers for melanoma. Atypical moles can mimic melanoma both clinically and histologically and sometimes is very difficult to draw a clear line and further tests on the sample may be required.
Clinically atypical nevi commonly range from about 4 to 12 mm, have irregular and ill-deﬁned margins, and irregular coloration. Patients with numerous moles (benign looking or atypical) may beneﬁt from periodic full body examinations done by a Dermatologist with dermoscopy.
Patient should monitor moles at home following the ABCDE rule:
Asymmetry – the two halves of the area may differ in shape;
Border – the edges of the area may be irregular or blurred, and sometimes show notches;
Colour – this may be uneven. Different shades of black, brown and pink may be seen;
Diameter – most melanomas are at least 6 mm in diameter. Report any change in size, shape or diameter to your doctor;
Expert – if in doubt, check it out! See a Consultant Dermatologist, the most expert person to diagnose a skin cancer.