How to help prevent melanoma

How to help prevent melanoma

Given that the UK is not considered a sunny climate you may be surprised by the number of incidences of skin cancer in the country. 

  • Approximately 40 cases of malignant melanoma (skin cancer) are diagnosed every day*
  • Malignant melanoma is the 5th most common cancer in the UK*
  • Incidence rates of malignant melanoma have more than quadrupled since the late 1970’s*
  • 1 in 54 people will be diagnosed with malignant melanoma during their lifetime*
  • Malignant melanoma risk is linked with intermittent exposure to high-intensity sunlight (e.g. sunbathing or holidaying in a place with strong sunlight)

*Figures from Cancer Research UK 2013

The good news however is that 86% of malignant melanoma cases in the UK are seen to be preventable. So with some lifestyle changes, sensible sun protection and a greater understanding of the damage the sun can cause, you can help to keep yourself and your family safe.

Best practice sun protection

It’s fair to say that the media have worked hard over the past 20 years to promote the use of sun screens and make us aware of the dangers of UV radiation. And whilst not all contributing factors can be controlled, e.g. age, race, family history etc., there are still things that you can do to lower your/your families risk of getting melanoma and other skin cancers. After all, you still see many sun burnt people during the summer months, so clearly not everyone is implementing safe sun practices

1. Limit Your Exposure to UV rays

The most important thing of all is to protect yourself from exposure to UV rays. This means staying out of the sun as much as possible. But if you are going in the sun then make sure you:

  • avoid the midday sun as much as possible as this is when the sun is at its strongest (11am – 3pm)
  • wear protective clothing, sun screen, a hat and sun glasses.

2. Avoid the use of tanning beds and sun lamps. 

Giving out UV rays, as per the sun, tanning beds and sun lamps have been scientifically linked to an increased risk in melanoma. Dermatologists and health professionals do not recommend their use.

3. Look after the children

Careful attention should be given to children as they can spend lots of time outdoors and can burn more easily. Educate your children on the harmful effects of the sun and make them aware of the safe sun practices above so they can look after themselves when you are not around.

4. Be skin aware

Finding skin cancer early is the key to treating it successfully, so make sure you know your own/ your families skin. Be aware of any changes to your skin; new growths, sores, changes moles etc. and be sure to inform your doctor of any areas of concern.

Toni Norman

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