Sunburns more likely to cause skin cancer

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Sunburns are more likely to cause skin cancer than accumulated exposure to the sun. This was one of the messages delivered by Dr. Nalinee Methachittiphan, dermatologist with Phyathai Hospital in Sriracha, when she spoke at the Sunday, February 17 meeting of the Pattaya City Expats Club.  Dr. Nalinee graduated with a degree in medicine from Thammasart University. She holds a Masters degree in clinical dermatology from the University of Cardiff in the UK, and a Diploma from the American Academy in Esthetic Medicine.

Dr. Nalinee explained that skin cancer comes in two forms: melanoma (which is malignant) and non-melanoma which, while classified as a cancer, spreads much more slowly than the melanoma variety and is almost always curable when found early and treated. Most cancers of the skin are non-melanoma. She said that non-melanoma skin cancer also comes in two forms: basal cell carcinoma, which is the most common of the two, and affects the lowest layer of the skin; and squamous cell carcinoma, which affects the middle layer of the skin.

Dr. Nalinee Methachittiphan, dermatologist with Phyathai Hospital in Sriracha, speaks at the Sunday, February 17 meeting of the Pattaya City Expats Club.Dr. Nalinee Methachittiphan, dermatologist with Phyathai Hospital in Sriracha, speaks at the Sunday, February 17 meeting of the Pattaya City Expats Club.

Dr. Nalinee identified exposure to the sun as the most common cause of skin cancer. Other contributing causes are genetic make-up; type of skin (white skin is more susceptible); smoking; the presence of infection on the skin; chronic inflammation; and an immune system that is suppressed. Smoking can be a factor because the smoke is carcinogenic and can cause cancer anywhere in the body, Dr. Nalinee explained.

The risks of developing skin cancer can be significantly reduced by adopting preventive measures such as wearing protective clothing, wearing sunglasses, using sunscreen and avoiding sunburns. Dr. Nalinee also said that the use of tanning beds should be avoided. In using sunscreen, she said it should be applied at least every four hours when exposed to the sun; also she believes that sunscreen with a sun protective factor (SPF) of 60 or greater is adequate.  Also, she mentioned that most literature on the subject recommends using protective measures if you go out after 10am.  However, because of Thailand’s location, she says you should take care anytime after 8am.

Skin cancer usually appears as a growth that changes in colour, shape or size. Signs of possible non-melanoma skin cancer are patches of skin that are red, swollen, crusty & peeling, or bleeding. A sore that does not heal is another sign. In her presentation, Dr. Nalinee provided some pictures of moles that turned out to be cancerous. She said doctors use the ABCDE system to help them identify possible melanoma skin cancer. The letters refer to spots on the skin that: are Asymmetrical; have an irregular Border; do not have a uniform Colour; have a Diameter over 6mm; and are Elevated or Enlarged.

Dr. Nalinee explained that a change in the “behaviour” of a mole is another danger sign. A biopsy is required to make a definitive diagnosis of skin cancer, she said. She identified five main treatments available for skin cancer: surgery, skin cream, radiation, chemotherapy and cryotherapy. The last one involves freezing the skin lesions.

Phyathai Sriracha Hospital’s International Marketing Director, Gavin Wadell, presents PCEC Chair Pat Koester with a gift hamper recognising the long cooperation between the hospital and Pattaya City Expats. Dr Nalinee and Nurse Wanvisa (who provided much appreciated blood pressure checks) look on.Phyathai Sriracha Hospital’s International Marketing Director, Gavin Wadell, presents PCEC Chair Pat Koester with a gift hamper recognising the long cooperation between the hospital and Pattaya City Expats. Dr Nalinee and Nurse Wanvisa (who provided much appreciated blood pressure checks) look on.

After Dr. Nalinee answered several questions, Master of Ceremonies Richard Silverberg then provided an update on upcoming events and called on Roy Albiston to conduct the Open Forum where questions are asked and answered about expat living in Thailand; Pattaya in particular.

For more information about the many activities of the Pattaya City Expats Club, visit their website at www.pattayacityexpatsclub.com.

Former Chair Richard Smith advises that an iPhone / iPad / Smartphone users group will take place on the 25th of February, in the Markland meeting room.Former Chair Richard Smith advises that an iPhone / iPad / Smartphone users group will take place on the 25th of February, in the Markland meeting room.

Board Member Jerry Dean reminds members that they and their children are welcome to come to the Bowling Day which the Friends of Youth arranges for orphans and other underprivileged children in the Pattaya area.Board Member Jerry Dean reminds members that they and their children are welcome to come to the Bowling Day which the Friends of Youth arranges for orphans and other underprivileged children in the Pattaya area.