Beware of excessive sun exposure! – Today Morocco

Beware of excessive sun exposure! – Today Morocco
Beware of excessive sun exposure! – Today Morocco

After shedding light on the definition of skin cancer, its symptoms, its diagnosis and its treatment, Dr Najib emphasizes its screening which takes place once a year or every two years.

ALM: What is skin cancer and what are its causes and risk factors?
Dr Rajae Najib: A skin cancer (or malignant tumor) is an excessive and uncontrolled proliferation of cells located in the skin. The three main forms of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. However, there are other types of skin cancers which are rarer, even exceptional. Among its causes, we distinguish exposure to the sun (or artificial ultraviolet). This is a factor that can promote the occurrence of the most common skin cancers. This sun exposure is more harmful in children, and people with fair skin, there is also heredity (several cases of skin cancer in the same family) which can play a role in certain cases, and age even though certain rare skin cancers can occur in young people. Most of them are more relevant to the middle-aged or older adult. Neuroendocrine carcinoma clearly predominates in the elderly, an infection by viruses. Example (Merkel cell polyomavirus) seems to promote the occurrence of neuroendocrine carcinoma.

What are its symptoms and first signs?
Given their location, skin cancers can be detected by the patient himself, or by a doctor during a general examination. If they are not detected early, they tend to spread gradually and can subsequently cause itching, pain, or even localized bleeding. Depending on the nature of the skin tumor, different appearances are possible (plaque; a papule (“pimple”), ulceration, etc.). Skin cancers can affect any area of ​​the skin: this is why it is important that the medical examination concerns the entire skin (including the scalp and the anogenital region).

How is the diagnosis made in the event of a questionable skin lesion?
In the event of a doubtful or suspicious skin lesion, the patient is referred to a dermatologist who carries out a clinical examination including a complete skin examination (so as not to ignore the existence of another skin tumor) with the naked eye but also with the help of a dermatoscope. This device gives the specialist useful information on the benign or malignant nature of the tumor, and its type. At the end of this examination, the dermatologist may suggest carrying out a skin biopsy if he considers that the skin lesion is suspected of being cancerous. The sample thus obtained is sent to the laboratory for an anatomopathological examination. This microscopic analysis makes it possible to confirm (or not) the diagnosis of skin cancer, and to specify its type.

What about the treatment of skin tumors?
The treatment of most skin cancers is based on surgical excision with a safety margin. Indeed, the risks of recurrence will be all the lower the further the surgeon has passed from the tumor both on the sides (lateral margin) and in depth. In addition to surgery, other treatments may be offered (chemotherapy, targeted therapies, radiotherapy, etc.). Patients treated for skin cancer must subsequently undergo regular medical monitoring. Most often, this monitoring is based on a complete clinical examination and radiological examinations every 3 to 6 months during the first 5 years (depending on the type of tumor and its characteristics), then annually.

What about skin cancer screening?
Skin cancer screening takes place once a year or every 2 years depending on the number and appearance of moles, called nevi. During this, the dermatologist examines all the moles, lists them and photographs those with atypical characteristics. He may decide to remove a suspicious lesion, and then send it for an in-depth histopathological study.

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