If not taken care, extreme exposure to sunlight can cause an invasive skin cancer

Insha Fatima
Insha Fatima

Recently a 29-year-old girl was diagnosed with deadly skin cancer which was mistaken to be a fungal infection. She was affected by a rare type of skin cancer, known as Melanoma. It’s rare and very dangerous as it’s most likely to invade other parts of the body too. Repeated exposure to sun can increase the chances of Melanoma in people of all ages.

Sarah Lee, a journalist at BBC had noticed a pea-sized mole on her scalp in July 2021, while she took a picture to decide if she wanted new highlights for her fine, blonde hair. The family doctor suggested her to a dermatologist, who told her that the spot was unlikely to be malignant. By November, the mole had grown and multiplied. On recommending another family doctor, she was informed that the mole was a fungus that would supposedly get better without treatment.

Somewhere deep down, she hadn’t been convinced with the results she had gotten so she approached another doctor who arranged for the moles to be surgically removed and biopsied.

In January, the biopsy results confirmed she had stage 3 malignant nodular melanoma, implying her cancer had spent to lymph nodes. She underwent a surgery of 8 hours to have 24 lymph nodes removed including from her neck.

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She has no signs of cancer anymore but she is expected to take two medicines which are cancer-blocking growth drugs, dabrafenib and trametinib to prevent it from growing back. As a side effect, it causes nausea at times.

Protecting ourselves from the sun should be of utmost importance to each one of us. The damage of skin cancer is at a rise, especially with the increase in the harmful radiation of ultraviolet light. Sunlight consists of 3 types of UV light: UVA, UVB, UVC

Presence of moles increases the chances of developing Melanoma, particularly if they are large (more than 5mm) or unusually shaped. The very first sign of this cancer can be a color-changing mole or a new brown or black spot.

You’re also more likely to develop melanoma skin cancer if you have:

a close relative who’s had melanoma skin cancer

  • pale skin that does not tan easily
  • red or blonde hair
  • blue eyes
  • several freckles
  • previously damaged your skin through sunburn or radiotherapy treatment
  • a condition that suppresses your immune system, such as diabetes or you take medicines that suppress your immune system (immunosuppressants)
  • a previous diagnosis of skin cancer

The risk of developing skin cancer also increases with age.


This whole transition from just being a fungal infection to it becoming a 3rd level Melanoma cancer had shaken Sara deeply and taught her as well as gave us a reality check on the harmful effect that sun damage can have. In US there are 99,870 cases of Melanoma and about 7% of these patients have died.


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