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Madrid, June 13 2023-. With each change of season, new warnings and recommendations emerge regarding the care of our health and wellbeing. As we pass from spring into summer, we need to talk about the prevention of sun damage, but care of the eyes is a topic that we often overlook. However The eyes are a part of the body also exposed to the sun and can develop various types of tumour on the lids or inner edges of the eye, such as squamous or basal cell carcinomas or, in the worst of cases, melanomas. For this reason at MD Anderson Cancer Center Madrid, they explain the importance of also protecting against direct exposure to strong sunlight.   

With this in mind, Dr. María Pilar López Criado, medical oncologist and Head of the Lung, Head & Neck and Melanoma Department of the hospital, explains that is fundamental to care for and protect the eyes from exposure to the sun. The best method of protection against the sun and its ultraviolet radiation is to wear sunglasses with an appropriate sun filter. Regular use of hats or caps to cover the face can also be helpful.

The tumours that most commonly develop in the eye area if we do not take the appropriate measures are squamous or basal cell carcinomas. With prompt diagnosis or good surgical intervention, neither of these should endanger the life of the patient. “Although all are malignant tumours that in a worst case scenario can end in the death of the patient, squamous or basal cell carcinomas do not tend to be so aggressive. Nevertheless, it is vital to conduct a prompt diagnosis and apply appropriate surgery for their extraction, with sufficient margins to impede future proliferation. The later the diagnosis is made, the greater the risk that deeper or more complicated surgery will become necessary”, argued the specialist.

As she then added, this type of intervention can have a significant aesthetic impact on the patients, who may see parts of their face or look altered, which can be important to their personal relationships. For this reason, it is vital to seek an appointment for a checkup in the event of any type of pigmented lesion that itches, irritates or changes appearance.

Melanomas on the eyes: less frequent, but with a higher risk of mortality

To these types of tumour, we need to add melanomas, which can also appear in the eye area. “A melanoma which you do not diagnose and cure in time, is a disease with a strong potential for metastasis and high risk”, added the doctor.   

In addition, we also find less common tumours in the eyes, such as a melanoma in the anterior pole. There also exists melanoma of the choroids or choroid melanoma, located in the posterior pole of the eye, which is most frequent in people with pale eyes and skin. In both cases, recalls the expert, “the best protection is the use of sunglasses, above all during the middle of the day”.

The scalp can also suffer accumulative damage from the sun 

At the same time, the doctor highlighted the importance of completely protecting the face and head from the sun, given that melanomas can also develop on the scalp. As such, López Criado explains that on occasion patients arrive at the hospital with an advanced tumour on the scalp, as the hair tends to hide the presence of pigmentations and delays the diagnosis by the dermatologist. In fact, hairdressers can often detect these changes in pigmentation first and advise their clients to visit a specialist.

In short, we should remember that any persistent lesion, on any part of the body, but especially on the face, is a reason to book a check-up. “Something which appears and is not corrected quickly tends to grow; if it itches and becomes flaky it is sufficient reason to consult a dermatologist”, she concludes. Although the lesions may be small, if they do not go away in a few days, it is not something that one should ignore. Finally, we should remember that it is always important to protect the lesion from exposure to the sun.