May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and as the weather across the UK heats up, Humber and North Yorkshire Cancer Alliance has joined forces with Macmillan and SKCIN to raise awareness of skin cancer and the importance of sun safety.
Skin cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the UK with over 220,000 cases diagnosed annually and that number continues to rise. However, with simple precautions such as wearing sunscreen and covering up this risk can be much lower.
Dr Dan Cottingham, Cancer Research UK GP Lead, Humber and North Yorkshire Cancer Alliance, said: “You don’t have to be exposed to the sun for lengthy periods and it doesn’t have to be a clear and sunny day for the sun’s rays to damage your skin. Just as you would protect yourself from the winter elements, it’s equally as important to protect yourself from the harmful and powerful UV rays of the sun.”
Heather Lysiak, Macmillan Engagement Lead for Humber and North Yorkshire, added: “Over 90% of skin cancers are preventable by adopting protective approaches to sun exposure. This is why we are working together to raise awareness. People need to understand the risk and the steps they can take to protect themselves. We hope we can help encourage people to make simple changes that might just save their lives.”
When the UV Index reaches three and above, SKCIN recommends the following five S approach to five-star sun protection that should be used in combination to prevent sun damage and reduce the risk of skin cancer.
- Slip on clothing – the first line of defence against UV rays
- Slop on SPF 30+ UVA sunscreen and reapply every two hours
- Slap on a wide brimmed had to protect the scalp and shade the face and neck
- Slide on UV protective sunglasses to protect the eyes
- Shade – seek shade when possible, particularly between 11am and 3pm when UV is at its strongest.
Even after taking precautions, it’s important to still know your skin and to be able to notice changes as they happen. Skin cancer can look different from one person to another. Dr Cottingham explained: “If you have an area of skin that’s sore, itchy, hurts, bleeds, crusts or scabs for four weeks or more, this could be a sign of skin cancer and it’s important to get this checked by your GP as soon as possible. Other things to look for include any small lumps that look unusual or a change to the size or shape of a mole or freckle.
“I advise checking your skin on a regular basis and if there’s something you’re not sure about, seek advice. It’s always better to be safe and cautious as the earlier cancer is detected the easier it can be to treat.”
Free skin cancer awareness sessions
As part of Skin Cancer Awareness Month Humber and North Yorkshire Cancer Alliance will also be running several online awareness sessions for people to find out more about skin cancer and what to look for. The sessions are free and open to anyone from the Humber and North Yorkshire area. To find out more visit www.hnycanceralliance.org.uk/cancerchampions/
Another handy way of detecting potential abnormalities is to download the SKCIN APP. The app provides users with a wealth of information, images, self-management tools and features to promote both the prevention and early detection of skin cancer, enabling you to confidently take charge of your skin health and surveillance.
Skin cancer can be prevented, take the steps you need to be safe in the sun today.