Skin Cancer Awareness Month
May is skin cancer awareness month, and with Summer fast approaching it is becoming increasingly important to keep our skin safe in the sun and be aware of the risks of skin cancer.
An obvious aid in the prevention of skin cancer, sun cream plays an essential role in keeping skin safe in the sun. SPF 30 is generally recommended for most skin types, with SPF 50 on any exposed scars. Make sure all exposed areas are covered and rub it in evenly. Always ensure you’ve applied enough and reapply every few hours and immediately after contact with water, following the advice on the bottle.
Arguably the simplest way of keeping skin safe in the sun is to cover up with loose-fitting clothing and wear a hat, allowing minimal skin to be exposed to sunlight. Staying in the shade when possible is also a good idea – particularly between the hours of 11am and 3pm when the sun’s rays are at their strongest.
BAPRAS – ‘Staying safe in the sun’: http://www.bapras.org.uk/media-government/news-and-views/view/staying-safe-in-the-sun
According to the NHS, many sunbeds give out greater doses of UV rays than the midday tropical sun, and people who are exposed to UV rays before the age of 25 are at greater risk of developing skin cancer later in life.
While the most common type of skin cancer is a result of direct sun exposure and/or sunbed damage to skin cells, it can also be genetic. In fact, there are over 22 recognised types of skin cancer, more information on which can be found in our guide to skin anatomy and types of skin cancer: http://www.bapras.org.uk/public/patient-information/surgery-guides/skin-cancer/skin-anatomy-and-skin-cancers
If you’re concerned
You may have noticed some new moles on your skin or existing ones may have changed shape, colour or texture. This may not necessarily be cancer but can indicate an early sign of the condition. A dermatologist or plastic surgeon can provide a comprehensive assessment of any skin lumps and bumps to determine whether they are cancerous or benign (non-cancerous). In the first instance, you should always contact your GP who will be able to refer you.
For information on the role of plastic surgery in treating skin cancer, please see our article by the BAPRAS skin cancer special interest group: http://www.bapras.org.uk/media-government/news-and-views/view/the-role-of-plastic-surgery-in-treating-skin-cancer
Early preventative action & an understanding of the dangers of the sun and UV rays are the most effective methods of avoiding a skin cancer diagnosis. Follow advice and keep an eye on your skin for any changes.
BAPRAS have released an official guide to skin cancer which can be found here:
For extra support when dealing with skin cancer, please see the charities and associations below:
British Association of Dermatologists: http://www.bad.org.uk/
Cancer Research UK www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerhelp/
Melanoma Focus http://melanomafocus.com/informationportal/what-is-melanoma/
Public Health England, Skin Cancer Hub www.swpho.nhs.uk/skincancerhub/
Lymphoedema Support Network www.lymphoedema.org
Veterans UK: If you have served with the armed forces (including the Merchant Navy) and developed skin cancer as a result of your time in service, you may be eligible for compensation. www.veterans-uk.info/
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