• 6/7/2022

    Doha, 07 June 2022: In support of Skin Cancer Awareness Month, held annually in Junethe Dermatology experts at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) joined the healthcare organizations worldwide to raise awareness of skin cancer throughout June. They emphasize the performance of regular self-checkups to search for early signs of skin cancer and highlight the importance of seeking prompt medical assistance when symptoms of skin cancer appear.

    Skin cancer is an abnormal growth of skin tissues commonly caused by the skin's prolonged exposure to Ultraviolet UV radiation from its natural source, the sun, or artificial source such as tanning beds. It develops when errors (mutations) occur in the DNA of skin cells. The mutations cause the cell to grow out of control and form a mass of cancer cells. When it is detected early, skin cancer is one of the most highly treatable forms of cancer.

    Many types of skin cancer exist, including Melanoma, which affects melanocytes (cells responsible for skin coloring), and Non-Melanoma skin cancer NMSC, which affects the cells of the upper layer of skin. It has two types; the Basal Cell Carcinoma BCC is considered the most common kind of all Skin Cancer types. It is slow growing, more common, but less severe. Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the second most common after BCC. Finally, there are other rare types of skin cancer, for example, B-cell and T-cell Lymphoma, Kaposi's sarcoma, and Merkel Cell Carcinoma.

    Among all types of skin cancer, Melanoma is the most dangerous form. It can develop on a newly appearing mole or a pre-existing one; it can seem like a dark or multi-colored spot on any skin part, including nails.

    Though UV radiation from sunshine or tanning beds can increase the risk of developing it, Melanoma can grow even on skin parts that are not exposed. If Melanoma is recognized and treated early, it is highly curable, but if it is not, cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes hard to control and can be fatal.

    Dr. Nazeeha AL-Hayki, Senior Consultant, Chair of Skin Cancer Multidisciplinary Team and Chair of National Clinical Advisory Group of Dermatology at HMC’s Rumailah Hospital said: "We have advanced imaging technology in Foto-finder and Confocal Microscope for early skin cancer detection. She also mentioned that the most common cause of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet radiation in sunlight. Although anyone can be affected by skin cancer, people with fair and lighter skin and those with a family history of skin cancer are more likely to develop the disease. 

    She continued: "It is crucial to check all the skin, including the back, soles of feet, between fingers and toes, and under the nails. People should also regularly check the skin for any changes using the mirror, especially in patients with multiple moles; if any change appears, the person should seek immediate medical assistance and get a referral to see an expert dermatologist. Any existing moles, a new spot or an existing spot that changes in color, size or shape, bleeding, or itching is a sign of concern."

    Urging people to take some precautionary measures, Dr. Al Hayki said: "It is advisable to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun between 10 am to 4 pm and especially during peak temperatures. When people go out, they should wear sun protective clothing covering as much skin as possible. Another good way to protect oneself from being affected is wearing a hat with a broad brim that covers the face, head, neck, and ears. People should also apply broad-spectrum, water-resistant sun block of SPF 30+ or higher at least 20 minutes before going outdoors and repeat application every three hours." 

    Additionally, Dr. Al Hayki encourages the public to use the ABCDE checklist of skin cancer to spot changes as early as possible. 

    • Asymmetry – one half of the mole doesn't match the other 
    • Border irregularity – the outer edges are uneven
    • Color that is not uniform – dark black or multiple colors
    • Diameter greater than 6 millimeters – about the size of a pencil head eraser 
    • Evolving – change in size, shape, or color

    If any unusual spots appear on the skin, people must take a quick visit to the nearest primary health care center for a check-up by a physician. If the physician has any suspicions regarding the spot, he will refer the patient immediately to a skin cancer expert in the dermatology department at Rumailah Hospital of HMC for further investigation. 

    HMC's Department of Dermatology and Venereology provides dermatology health services to patients with all skin conditions, including skin cancers, immune and allergic processes, diseases of other organ systems with skin manifestations, and skin infections. Patients seeking a medical consultation at the dermatology outpatients can obtain a referral from PHCC or a private clinic or call the HMC Nesma'ak team on 16060 to book an appointment.