Skin Cancer: Exposure to Sunlight Determines the Type of Cancer Caused

In the latest edition of the online journal BioMed Central, the findings of a study related to patterns of sunlight exposure and its role in skin cancer were exposed.

Researchers at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France and the Motiff Cancer centre in Florida have studied the effects of exposure to sunlight in 2 types of non-melanoma skin cancers.

Funding for the research was provided by James & Esther King Biomedical Research Program of the State of Florida.

Skin CancerStudy Conducted on Skin Cancer Patients

They studied the patterns and timing of exposure to sunlight that caused these cancers. Patterns of exposure means continuous and intermittent exposure to sunlight while, timing of exposure means exposure during the stage of life such as childhood, adolescent or adult life.

The study included 703 participants who are residents of Florida and suffering from either of the two types of non-melanoma skin cancers – basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma. Out of the 703 participants 218 were suffering from basal cell carcinoma while 169 were suffering from squamous cell carcinoma. 316 of them were control group who were healthy individuals who did not have cancer.

The goal of the study was to identify the similarities in the cancer types based on the pattern and timing of exposure to sunlight. The participants were to answer questionnaire on the history of their exposure to sunlight from childhood to the recent times.

Exposure to Sunlight and the Type of Cancer Caused

It was found that blistering sunburns was a common feature to both types of patients. Those who had continuous exposure to sunlight as a part of their job were also found to be more prone to these two types of skin cancer. However, exposure to sunlight at younger age was associated with higher risk of squamous cell carcinoma and not basal cell carcinoma.

Benefits of the Study

This study is useful in understanding the type of cancer caused due to the patterns and timings of the exposure to sunlight. The researchers came to the conclusion that this study has been useful in educating the public on the safety measures when getting exposed to sunlight. One of them is to apply sunscreen on all exposed parts of the body, especially when on vacations.

This reduces the risk of developing basal cell carcinoma which is caused by intense but intermittent exposure to sunlight. The same applies to those who are exposed to continuous sunlight, with the difference being that this leads to elevated risk of squamous cell carcinoma.


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