Every year 3,200 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed and that figure is increasing by 10% yearly. Although awareness of the importance of protecting one’s skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s radiation has increased considerably over the last decade, there are still doubts about how to go about it. This is particularly true for those under treatment for cancer.
“Patients receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment experience certain skin conditions that mean being extremely careful in the sun. But that does not mean they cannot enjoy the sun at all. It just means they have to take certain measures to minimize the effects of the sun on their skin”, explains Dr. Pilar Lopez Criado, medical oncologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid.
First of all, the midday sun, when radiation is most intense, must be avoided. It is also vital to keep the skin well hydrated. “Cancer treatments can cause alterations in the epithelial tissue, which together with the sun’s radiation, makes the skin more fragile”, says Dr. Lopez Criado.
So, specialists remind us of how important it is to use sun creams with a high protection factor and insist on the need to use these products correctly. ”Cancer patients must use a 50+ factor which provides an effective screen against UVA and UVB. Furthermore, they must use these products correctly, applying the cream or lotion before exposure to the sun and reapplying frequently, because the effectiveness of the product diminishes with time and with a single application, there is a risk of missing some areas”, points out the doctor.
Finally, in addition to chemical protection, cancer patients cannot forget to use physical protective methods to reduce the effects of the sun on the skin. “So, in addition to using a hat or cap, gloves and sunglasses, you can also get bathing suits made with materials that totally block the sun’s rays”, finishes Dr. Lopez Criado.