This week marks the start of Sun Awareness Week - an annual campaign run by the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) to raise awareness of skin cancer.
According to statistics released this week by BAD, 92 per cent of people say they have been sunburnt at least once and almost a third recall burning on more than ten occasions.
Health specialists are urging people to stay safe in the sun and warn that even on cloudy days you can still burn, the heat or weather doesn’t always reflect how strong the UV level is.
Ultraviolet light (UVA and UVB) is the main environmental cause of most skin cancers. Sunburn (i.e. skin redness) and heavy tans are especially harmful to your skin and significantly increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Sunburn, has particularly strong links to melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer.
Kerry Crooks, NHS Central Lancashire public health associate for cancer, said: “The incidence rate of skin cancer in central Lancashire has been consistently higher than the England average. There were 960 newly diagnoses cases of skin cancer in central Lancashire in 2009 compared with 727 in 2008 and of these a higher percentage were men.
“Sun exposure is the main cause of skin cancer, therefore it is important when outdoors to protect yourself against harmful UV rays. Always use a high factor sunscreen at least SPF30, cover up by wearing a long sleeved shirt, a hat and keep out of the sun during the hottest part of the day (11am- 3pm).
“Even though it may feel cooler in this part of country, the UV rays still cause damage to the skin and every bit of sun damage increases your chances of developing skin cancer.”
Dr Christopher Dobson, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust consultant dermatologist, said: “It is important that people regularly examine their skin for warning signs of skin cancer, take care in the sun and use sunscreen to reduce the risk of disease in the first place.”
It’s important to get to know your skin and look out for any changes. If you have any moles or patches of normal skin that change in size, shape or colour you should show them to your GP.
The British Association of Dermatologists has developed a free World UV App which will allow you to check UV levels wherever you are, which will be really useful to people this summer. To find out more visit the website: wwww.bad.org.uk.
Have you been affected by skin cancer? Would you like to help raise awareness by sharing your story?
Get in touch with Charlotte Wareing on 01257 264911 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.