Ultraviolet Radiation causes damage to the skin, eyes, lip, can lead to premature aging of the skin, abnormal changes in the texture of the skin, and suppresses the immune system. Millions of people around the world are affected with melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers annually. July is the Ultraviolet Safety month. During this month the mission is to spread awareness about how to protect our skin and eyes from the UV rays.
Skin cancer survivors narrate their experiences in unique ways and the various steps of their journey. They say sharing their personal experience is also beneficial to the readers and to themselves. Online sharing can enhance their personal empowerment and self-esteem and reduce social isolation and distress.
Anne,(named changed) as a teenager enjoyed being in the sun. Regularly she went with her family to the beach, and would lay in the sun with friends. Though she would apply sunscreen was not very serious about it. When she was 17 years old she started working in a tanning salon until she was 19. Here she used the tanning bed regularly and continued with her sunbathing practices. Then she went to college so the usage of tanning bed decreased. At the age of 24, she noticed a mole on her left thigh. It looked normal in the beginning, but slowly the borders changed, the middle portion raised and the size grew. As her mother was very concerned they got it checked the doctor removed it and when tested it was diagnosed as melanoma. Then a biopsy was done and a fairly large portion of the skin was removed and was tested negative and thank God it did not spread. Whatever treatment was required was given but every six month for three years and every year and after that for the rest of her life. Luckily for her she was tested benign and timely visit to the doctor saved her Today she encourages people around to be careful about the changes of their moles and how important it is to see a doctor regularly.
Another survivor is ‘Cowboy’ Jack Novek: The Three –Cancer Corral. He says he is a cowboy through and through .He used to train ponies at the race track .For Jack his health was his top priority, so went for regular checkups. 1993, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and was treated. Then in 2017 he developed with skin cancer in multiple spots. The doctors were able to remove surgically squamous cell carcinoma and with regular checkups he recovered. So appreciating the he writes,” Roses are red, Violets are blue. Every time I get the C-word, the doctors and nurses and the staff come through. So I am thanking you.” IN 2019 he was diagnosed with Non- Hodgkin Lymphoma. In spite of going through all the three cancers his faith in the doctors never wavered as he felt he was in safe hands. He continues to work on his farm and is ever grateful to the medical fraternity.
JULY AWARENESS MONTH FROM ULTRA VIOLET RAYS OF THE SUN:
- This month is to raise awareness and alert the general public to the need for sun protection in order to reduce skin cancer risk.
- Sun protection is needed by seeking shade during midday.
- To cover the exposed skin parts with clothing, using sunscreen and using a hat during the day time when you are outside the house.
- Better to avoid being outdoors during midday.
- Ultraviolet (UV) light is a type of radiation that emits from the sun, exposure from tanning beds and sunlamps.
THREE TYPES OF UV LIGHT:
- ULTRAVIOLET A (UVA): has the longest wave length and penetrates the skin’s middle layer.
- ULTRAVIOLET B (UVB): has the next longest wavelength and penetrates the outer layer of the skin.
- ULTRAVIOLET C(UVC): has the shortest wavelength all the UVC rays emitted by the sun are absorbed by the ozone layer. The only way one can be exposed to UVC radiation is from a tanning bed or a sunlamp.
A FEW WAYS TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM UV:
- To protect from the effects of the sun is to use sunscreen and sunglasses.
- This helps to block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB light.
- It protects during the period between 10am and 4pm, when UV rays are their strongest.
- UV exposure is dangerous during summer months and also during cool weather, on cloudy days and during any season of the year.
- One gets vitamin D from UV radiation and gives strength and develops the bone, but unprotected exposure is dangerous.
- Lying on a tanning bed use protective goggles.
- Every time you go out protect your eyes, wear a hat with a broad rim or wear goggles otherwise long exposure to UVC can lead to cataracts, eye cancer or growths on or near the eye.
On this day certain common myths and misconceptions about UV eye protection is also highlighted. They are:
MYTH: Only expensive eye glasses really work—any protective goggles that blocks the UV rays is sufficient.
MYTH: you can’t get sunburn in the shade—sometimes UV rays bounce from leafy tree or shade to reach our skin. So it’s better to protect by using the five sun protection measures—clothing, a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and shade.
MYTH: I USED TO SUNBAKE WHEN I WAS YOUNGER, SO IT’S TOO LATE FOR ME: It’s never too late for skin cancer prevention. Whether six months or sixty years, following the Sun protection steps you can cure yourself.
Despite the fact that sun expose occurs almost throughout the year in India, Vitamin D deficiency is still prevalent. Infants also should be protected from the sun and the same time they too need vitamin D so this can be met through a proper diet rather than deliberate sun exposure.
Dermatologists and Pediatricians in India should counsel parents about the need for sun protection, especially in fair-skinned infants and children. All parents must be explained the risk of excess exposure to sunlight. Schools must also avoid sports during peak sun damage hours. This month mainly caters to educating the general public how to protect themselves and their near and dear ones from UV rays.
For Consultation : Cancer Specialist and oncologist