National skin cancer screening week

The skin, the largest organ in the human body, has many functions. As well as being the sensory organ par excellence, the best thermal regulator and the synthesiser of vitamin D, its main role is to protect the body from the outside world. Every day, the skin is exposed to a wide range of aggressions in order to protect us. Rubbing, infections, wind and temperature variations are the most common examples. But UV rays stand out as the most dangerous for our skin. In fact, the main cause of skin cancer is ultraviolet rays, from overexposure to the sun and solariums.

Skin cancer in France

In France, 100,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year. In fact, it is the most common cancer in France, with over 15,000 cases of cutaneous melanoma. It is important to note that excessive exposure to UV rays is a definite cause of skin cancer.

It doesn’t matter whether you sunbathe to excess or use a tanning bed, the radiation is just as harmful. That’s why it’s vital to focus on prevention and early diagnosis.

UV rays

The sun and its UV rays can be beneficial for our bodies. We’ve certainly noticed that they make a visible contribution to our well-being. The proof: we’re happier when the sun’s out!

Ultraviolet light is the main source of vitamin D, which is responsible for the proper functioning of our immune system and the strengthening of our bones. In some cases, they even improve the condition of certain skin diseases, thanks to their anti-inflammatory benefits.

However, excessive exposure to these rays can be totally harmful. Whether from the sun’s natural rays or from artificial tanning booths. The risks of skin cancer are very real, and the data are alarming.

A week to raise awareness, prevent and screen

For the past 24 years, the French National Association of Dermatologists and Venereologists and the French National Cancer Institute (INCa) have been organising an annual public health campaign in May to raise awareness of the importance of protection against UV rays. For this 23rd edition, National Skin Cancer Screening Week will take place from 20 to 24 May 2022. Early detection increases the chances of a cure!

Cutaneous melanomas diagnosed at the metastatic stage have a poor prognosis (5-year survival rate of 20%). However, when detected early, most can be cured by surgical removal. Detection is based on regular skin examinations.

How can you protect your skin against skin cancer?

  • Exposure should be kept to a minimum, with a preference for shaded areas
  • Avoid exposure to the sun between midday and 4 a.m
  • Use and abuse anti-UV clothing, hats, glasses, visors, etc.
  • Apply a sufficient quantity of sun cream once and reapply every two hours
  • Remember that indoor tanning is just as dangerous.

What is the link between epigenetics and skin cancer?

Epigenetics, the study of heritable changes in gene expression without changing the DNA sequence, plays a crucial role in the development and progression of skin cancer. While genetic mutations are often the focus of attention in oncology, epigenetic modifications such as DNA methylation, histone modifications and non-coding RNAs can also contribute to tumorigenesis.

In the case of skin cancer, particularly melanoma and carcinoma, epigenetic alterations can influence cell proliferation, immune evasion and even resistance to treatment. These epigenetic modifications can be induced by various environmental factors, such as UV exposure, and can be used as biomarkers for diagnosing or monitoring the disease. Understanding epigenetic mechanisms could therefore pave the way for new, more targeted therapeutic strategies against skin cancer.

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