The skin is the largest and most accessible of our organs, directly exposed to environmental carcinogens. Skin cancer – the abnormal and atypical growth of skin cells – most often develops on skin exposed to the sun including the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest arms and hands. However, skin cancer can also form in other areas such as the palms, soles, nailbed or in the genital areas.
Skin cancer is a growing health concern worldwide and the most common malignancy in South Africa. The South African population is at a particularly high risk of skin cancer due to the country’s geographical position and level of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) as well as the increased sun exposure due to occupational and recreational activities.
Since skin cancer is largely preventable, better awareness and promotion of healthy behaviours is important in minimising this healthcare burden.
Pharmacists are well-positioned to improve awareness and early detection of skin cancer as well as promote preventative measures to reduce the burden of skin cancer in South Africa. This Module discusses the different types of skin cancer while focussing on the most common skin cancer – basal cell carcinoma.