Sun

Enjoying sun and heat is the highpoint of many summer and holiday destinations. Be careful, however, with the sun's radiation. Too much ultra-violet (UV) radiation and sunburn will increase the risk of skin cancer.

The skin cancer risk is also present in Finland, even though the sun is not as hot here in the warm countries in the South.

Skin cancer is almost always due to the sun’s UV rays. Up to 95% of skin cancer can be prevented by being properly protected from sunlight. The main way to protect yourself from solar radiation is to stay in the shade.

What cancer does UV radiation cause?

UV radiation causes skin cancer, such as melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma and basel-cell carcinoma.  The sun’s UV radiation is the leading risk factor for skin cancer. Repeated sunburn and life-long exposure to sunshine increase the risk of different skin cancers.

Skin cancers have become more common in recent decades. This is due to the aging of the population, but also to the fact that people wear lighter clothing when in the sun.

Melanoma

Melanoma is the most dangerous skin cancer because it spreads rapidly by metastasising. The burning of the skin at an early age further increases the risk of melanoma. Sunbathing and using solariums also increase its risk.

Melanoma has been the fastest growing cancer in the Western for decades. Melanoma typically develops on the skin of the body or limbs. By contrast with other skin cancers, melanoma occurs among relatively young people.

The risk of melanoma is greatest among those who have:

  • light skin that burns easily (skin type 1 and 2)
  • red or fair hair and pale-coloured eyes
  • lots of moles or freckles
  • melanoma in the family (heredity)
  • been repeatedly sunburned

Melanoma often develops as in the form of a new mole or change in the skin. It is estimated that a third of melanomas starts from a mole that already exists. Always consult your doctor if the appearance of a mole on your skin changes, or if you are concerned by appearance of a new mole.

Inspecting your moles (linkki)

Other types of skin cancer

Squamous cell carcinoma and basel-cell carcinoma develop mostly in older people as a result of prolonged exposure to the sun. These cancers mainly appear on the face and hands –  areas that are constantly exposed to sunshine. Basel-cell carcinoma is the most common of skin cancers, but also the least dangerous because it occurs locally and does not metastasise.  The prognoses concerning squamous cell carcinoma and basel-cell carcinoma are usually good.