Take Caution When in the Sun

Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) advises residents to take care when in the sun, noting that the ultraviolet (UV) radiation present in sunlight can damage skin in as little as 15 minutes.


Unprotected and excessive exposure to UV radiation is one of the leading causes of skin cancer. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), incidence of non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers are steadily increasing, with the WHO now reporting that one in three cancers diagnosed is skin cancer.

To guard against skin cancer, physicians recommend limiting sun exposure, wearing appropriate clothing, including hats and long sleeves, and using sunscreen. Sunscreen should be applied to all exposed skin as it works by reflecting and scattering sunlight, even on cloudy and cool days.

Dr Al-Hareth Al-Khater, Senior Consultant in Oncology and Acting Medical Director at the National Centre for Cancer Care and Research says the key to preventing skin cancer is limiting exposure and regular examinations of one’s skin.

Preventing skin cancer requires us to limit our exposure to the sun and to take preventative measures. We need to be ‘skin aware’. This means we need to check our skin regularly and look for changes in the size, shape or color of moles while also looking for new moles.’

The Cancer Skin Foundation defines skin cancer as the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells. Age, skin color, family history of skin cancer and the amount of time spent outdoors may affect an individual’s risk of developing skin cancer.

Physicians recommend using the ABCD rule for skin cancer to identify malignant moles. A is for asymmetry; is the mole the same on both sides? B is for border; check the edges of the mole or spot; are they irregular and uneven? C is for color; has there been any change? and D is for diameter; has the mole grown in size?

Dr. Al-Khater advises that the key to healthy skin is being vigilant about observing changes to the appearance of skin; particularly areas exposed to the sun most, such as the face, neck and arms. He also notes that individuals who have fair skin or a family history of skin cancer need to be more attentive.

Individuals should also note if they have a spot, mole or patch of skin that itches or hurts, won’t heal or bleeds easily. It is particularly important if these changes have occurred over weeks or months.’

The majority of skin cancers are treatable and individuals are advised to visit their physician immediately if they notice signs of skin cancer. Cancers diagnosed early have a higher rate of treatment success.