Our industry is at the forefront of trying to prevent such things, as one of our products, along with correct clothing and behaviours, is a great way to prevent skin damage that can lead to cancer: sunscreen. So at the risk of sounding like Baz Luhrmann from that great 90s track… Always wear sunscreen.
There are three main types: firstly melanoma, and then non-melanoma, which falls into two sub-categories, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
Melanomas are the most aggressive type, spreading faster in the body, and typical signs include a mole that has changed in size, shape, colour, has irregular edges, has more than one colour, is itchy or bleeds.
Non-melanoma skin cancer, of which there are two common forms mentioned above, is one of the most common types of cancer in the world, and refers to a group of cancers that slowly develop in the upper layers of the skin.
90% of skin cancer cases can be treated effectively if diagnosed early enough
The first sign of non-melanoma skin cancer is usually the appearance of a lump or patch on the skin that doesn't heal after a few weeks. In most cases, cancerous lumps are red and firm, while cancerous patches are often flat and scaly.
It is advised that people go and see their medical professional if they have any skin abnormality that hasn't healed after four weeks. Although it is unlikely to be skin cancer, it is best to be sure.
It is estimated that more than 90% of skin cancers is caused by ultraviolet radiation, from the sun, as well as artificial sunbeds and sunlamps.
According to the World Cancer Report 2014 by the World Health Organisation, decreasing exposure to UV radiation and the use of sunscreen appears to be effective methods of preventing melanoma and squamous cell cancer.
Raising awareness is an important part of making sure that people take the correct preventative measures, but also to remind people to regularly check themselves and loved ones for any unusual marks or spots that may develop.
And it is raising awareness of skin cancer that has fuelled a number of studies and campaigns, from market intelligence companies to manufacturers to scientists, so here we take a look at some of the most interesting pieces from this year.
First up we have a study by market researcher Ipsos that says that despite being aware of the risks of sun exposure and of developing cancer when exposed without protection, the levels of people using sunscreen and taking precautions is still quite alarming as incidences of melanoma are still on the rise.
According to Ipsos, 90% of skin cancer cases can be treated effectively if diagnosed early enough.
The information gathered by Ipsos also ended up forming the basis of L’Oréal skin care brand La Roche-Posay’s Skinchecker campaign which was launched to raise awareness of skin cancer last month.
The campaign encourages people to check out any moles or new blemishes on the skin of loved ones, thus becoming a ‘Skinchecker’, and is using the strengths of social media to have the biggest impact.
Another manufacturer also on the campaign trail is Beiersdorf, launching its Nivea international awareness campaign in February looking to increase awareness about the risks of UV radiation with a video showing the effect that UV light has on the skin.
The campaign, ‘Take Care Out There’, hopes to educate on the dangers of sun exposure without protection, and a video has been developed using UV camera technology to show how easy it is to protect the skin with sunscreen and enjoy the sun without concern.
But according to new research from a team of Yale-led scientists, damage also occurs in the hours after sun exposure, meaning that ‘evening-after’ sunscreen could be a product worth developing.
In the past, it was believed that melanin protected the skin by blocking harmful UV light, but the team from Yale say there is also evidence from other studies suggesting that melanin was associated with skin cell damage.
The chemical reaction that causes this damage, however, is a slow one, meaning there is time for preventative measures such as a cream that can be applied after exposure.
Meanwhile, another study published a few months ago also stressed the importance of sunscreen to airline pilots as they can be exposed to the same amount of UVA radiation as that from a tanning bed session.
The study states that a meta-analysis reported an increased incidence of melanoma in pilots and cabin crew, which was possibly due to occupational exposures.
While cabin crews’ exposure to cosmic radiation has been assessed in different studies and always found below the allowed dose limit, the cumulative exposure of pilots and cabin crew to UV radiation, a known risk factor for melanoma, has not been assessed to the authors’ knowledge.
In the industry there are a lot of innovations and new developments happening all the time, and at the end of the month Cosmetics Design will also be detailing all the latest from the sun care market in a special newsletter, so keep your eyes peeled for that.
Of course, it is not possible to avoid sunlight all the time, and there are also many benefits from sun exposure, but it is also important to raise awareness of the dangers to too much exposure.
Oh, and here’s that Baz Luhrmann song…