Discussion Question 1
Discuss the recommendations for skin examinations.
The skin protects the body from the entry of pathogenic microorganisms. However, since it is the external organ in the body, it is exposed to a wide range of factors that increase the risk of disease and injury. Besides pathogenic microorganisms, the skin is also exposed to sun rays and other adverse environmental conditions that increase the risk of cancerous conditions. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that all people should undergo regular screening of the skin to identify possible lesions that might be cancerous or precancerous (Garbe, Schmitz, & Orfanos, 2012). Physicians concur with the recommendation for regular screening and argue that it creates a base on which to identify curable as well as incurable conditions at an early stage. Self-examination of the skin is also advisable since it increases one’s awareness of possible changes in skin tone and texture. Skin examination should be done regularly enough to become a habit. Care providers carry out full-body exams to identify abnormalities and initiate treatment at an early stage. Patients, who are at risk of skin cancer, should be advised that skin examination is a potential live-saving procedure (Stockfleth Rosen & Schumaak, 2010). The progress of cancerous and precancerous skin conditions can be stopped if they are spotted at an early stage.
You mention those with lighter skin are at higher risk (which is true), but can skin cancer found in darker skinned people?
What populations are at increased risk of developing skin cancer?
It has been revealed that the risk of skin cancer varies from one group to another due to various factors including the concentration of melanin, age, and exposure to carcinogenic materials that characterize these groups. It is, however, important to note that being at a higher risk does not imply that an individual will end up developing skin cancer (Garbe, Schmitz, & Orfanos, 2012).
One of the groups of people who are at a higher risk of developing cancer are those with fairer skins. Due to the lower concentration of melanin, Caucasians have a higher risk as compared to people with darker skins. However, even darker skinned people are at risk of skin cancer. Some types of skin cancer are caused by different factors other than UV rays. Some people are predisposed to the risk of skin cancer by genetics and other environmental influences (Perez, 2016). The significantly lower risk of skin cancer among darker skinned people is associated with the high concentration of melanin. Melanin protects the skin against UV rays that are linked to skin cancer (Altmeyer, Hoffmann & Stücker, 2012). Elderly persons are also believed to have a higher risk of skin cancer as compared to younger people. This risk is largely contributed to the longer period of exposure to sun rays. People who are genetically predisposed also have a higher risk of skin cancer. The other groups of individuals who are in danger of developing skin cancer are those who are exposed to radioactive substances and other carcinogenic material due to the nature of their occupation. Prolonged exposure to radiation during treatment is also believed to increase the risk of cancer (Stockfleth Rosen & Schumaak, 2010). Patients struggling with long-term skin conditions and injuries such as severe burn, and chronic wounds can also develop skin cancer even though the risk is small (Garbe, Schmitz, & Orfanos, 2012).
What recommendations can we give to our patients (from the pediatric to geriatric patient) regarding sun exposure?
It is important for patients to be notified that regardless of the skin color, all people are at risk of developing skin cancer. This information is crucial since it makes it easier for patients to make appropriate decisions for their health (Goolsby & Grubbs, 2015). Patients need to understand that overexposure to the sun rays trigger a wide range of negative reactions on the skin. These reactions are referred to as sun poisoning and in the long-term, they can result in skin cancer (Ruff, 2015). People should take precaution every day and minimize exposure to factors that trigger inappropriate skin reactions. Young people also need to be ma aware that skin cancer does not occur at once. Skin cancer is a progressive condition that occurs due to overexposure of certain trigger factors (Altmeyer, Hoffmann & Stücker, 2012). Children and young adults should therefore not be misguided by the perception that skin cancer is for elderly people. Patients should be advised to seek medical attention whenever they notice abnormalities on their skin (Ruff, 2015).
Altmeyer, P., Hoffmann, K., & Stücker, M. (2012). Skin Cancer and UV Radiation. New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media,
Garbe, C., Schmitz, S., Orfanos, C. (2012). Skin Cancer: Basic Science, Clinical Research and Treatment. New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media,
Goolsby, M. J., & Grubbs, L. (2015). Advanced assessment: Interpreting findings and formulating differential diagnoses (Third ed.). Philadelphia, PA: F.A. Davis Company.
Perez, M., (2016). Can darker skinned people get skin cancer? http://www.skincancer.org/skin-cancer-information/ask-the-experts/can-darker-skinned-people-get-skin-cancer
Ruff, C., (2015). What Dermatologists Want You to Know About Sun Exposure? Retrieved from http://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2015/07/21/what-dermatologists-want-you-to-know-about-sun-exposure
Stockfleth, E., Rosen, T., & Schumaak, S. (2010). Managing Skin Cancer. New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media.
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