Wokingham Borough Council is highlighting the risks of developing skin cancer through tanning and sunburn as warm weather and extended sunny spells become more familiar.
Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, and the majority of these are preventable, but this cancer affects more men than women, with men more than twice as likely to die.
Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. The risk of melanoma increases with age, but it is also one of the most common cancers in people aged 15 to 34.
Cllr David Hare, the new executive member for health, wellbeing and adult services, said: “Although I’m sure many people will be tempted to make the most of the sunny weather this summer, it is very important to practice sun safety.
“My father had skin cancer and this contributed heavily to his eventual death – it is a serious matter that is easily prevented with sun cream and covering yourself appropriately. Take simple measures and keep those UV rays out.
“Some groups, such as babies, are more at risk, but it is important for all of us to take precautions in any sunshine. Skin cancer is highly preventable if you look after yourself reasonably.”
There are two usual types of skin cancer:
- Non-melanoma: These are skin cancers which develop in the upper layer of your skin, usually on the areas most exposed to the sun, such as you face, ears, hands and shoulders.
- Melanoma: This is the more common type of skin cancer and starts in the cells that give skin its colour. Melanoma is more serious because it spreads, but 86% of cases are preventable. In white skin, it is usually first visible as a new mole or an existing mole that has changed. On black skin, it can develop on feet or hands, under nails, or in the mouth. The changes to the cells are caused by damaged DNA, which grow and multiply. If left untreated, they can come into contact with lymph and blood vessels and then spread around the body.
Don't compromise safety for fun in the sun
Since the early 1990s, melanoma skin cancer rates have more than doubled (140%) in the UK. Brown or black skin is more susceptible to a type of melanoma that is not associated with sun exposure. Instead, it appears on the palms, under nails and in the mouth.
Dr Anat Sachdev, prevention and early diagnosis clinical lead for the Thames Valley Cancer Alliance, said: “Fun in the sun shouldn’t involve sunburn and increasing the chance of skin cancer.
“Having a suntan is no protection to further sun exposure. Never let your skin burn in the sun as this can cause changes to your skin cells, which cause cancer. Avoid sunbeds, as they expose your skin to high-intensity ultraviolet radiation, which dramatically increase the risk of skin cancer. No tan is worth this risk.
“This cancer affects more men than women and men are almost twice as likely to die from the disease. However, people of all ages and all skin colours need to protect themselves from sun damage to avoid skin cancer.
“Babies and children need additional protection – ideally, they should be well covered when in direct sunlight. Sunburn blisters in childhood can increase the risk of skin cancer later in life.
“We encourage people who work outdoors to stay safe and avoid skin damage with simple measures. These include using a broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30+ every two hours, avoiding midday sun and wearing a wide-brimmed hat and loose clothing that covers your skin.
“Regularly check your moles and freckles with the ABCDE method and if you notice anything new or unusual, contact your GP practice. Early diagnosis can save lives.”
You can assess your risk of skin cancer online with guidance from the British Skin Foundation.
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