Cancer is an infinitely complex disease, and there’s a great deal that still needs to be learned about it. One thing doctors do know with certainty is that ultraviolet rays from the sun can cause skin cancer. As doctors who live and work in the same communities as our patients, the Cancer Care team at Regional Medical Center of San Jose is committed to raising awareness about the deadly effects of unprotected sun exposure. It is possible to reduce the risk of certain cancers, including skin cancer.
UV radiation can lead to skin cancer
Melanocytes are the cells in the epidermis that produce melanin, which is a pigment. In some people, melanocytes produce more melanin than in other people.
Melanin production increases with sun exposure, which is a natural defense against damage from the sun. An increase in melanin production is also what causes people to tan. However, sometimes melanin production can’t keep up with the exposure to sunlight, and sunburn results instead.
Sunburn is an indicator that the skin cells have sustained damage to their DNA. Once this happens, it’s possible for the cells to pass on the damaged DNA to the next generation of skin cells. The cells with mutated DNA can replicate in an uncontrolled manner, which causes a cancerous growth to form.
UV radiation can kill skin cells
Of course, not all skin cells damaged by UV rays will form a cancerous tumor. Researchers have found that if the damage to the DNA of a cell is too widespread to be repaired, the cell will kill itself. This sounds alarming, but it’s actually beneficial because it stops the cell from passing along the mutations that can cause cancer to thrive.
Excessive UV exposure is preventable
UV exposure can inflict harm regardless of whether it’s hot or cold, sunny or cloudy. It can even pass through window glass and harm people who are indoors. The most effective protection against the harmful effects of UV radiation is to minimize exposure to it.
Staying indoors when the sun is strongest, wearing a wide-brimmed hat and applying sunscreen every two hours can help families stay protected from skin cancer.
Patients who have concerns about their risk of cancer can find the compassionate guidance they need at Regional Medical Center of San Jose . Our providers are committed to healthcare excellence because our San Jose community matters to us. Call a registered nurse at (888) 762-8881.