By Richard O'Reilly
The Western Trust is reminding people of the dangers of exposure to the sun and the use of sun beds as ‘Care in the Sun Week’ begins on Monday 8th May 2017.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Northern Ireland. Itaccounts for one in every four cancers with the rates of malignant melanoma rising among young people.
The Trust says, since the 1970s melanoma rates have trebled among 15 to 34 year-olds and experts believe that, along with binge tanning on foreign holidays, the use of sun beds is a primary cause.
Research shows that using a sun bed once a month or more can increase the risk of developing skin cancer by more than half and using sun beds before the age of 35 years can increase the risk of developing melanoma skin cancer by up to 75%.
Sunburn in childhood is also believed to increase the risk of developing skin cancer in later life, so the trust says it's vital children are adequately protected from the sun.
The Trust also points out the unpredictability of Northern Ireland weather. UV rays can penetrate thin cloud and this can lead to burning; the more burnings a person gets the higher their risk of skin cancer.
Melanoma is largely preventable by avoiding sunburn.
The trusts advice in enjoying the sun safely is as follows:
1. wearing sun cream factor 15 or above
2. wearing a hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes
3. avoiding sun beds
4. staying out of the midday sun.
Graphic Source: westerntrust.hscni.net
The Trust says it's also important to check skin regularly for suspected skin cancers. Check the whole body as skin cancer can occur in places not normally exposed to the sun. Be aware of any new spots, or existing spots that have changed colour, size or shape.
A skin cancer may be a spot that bleeds easily, never heals properly or is always itchy. If any of your moles change size, shape or colour, or become itchy, sore, weep or bleed, see a doctor, or if you have been in the sun and feel dizzy or exhausted seek medical advice.
The Western Trust does off some good news -that most skin cancers can be treated successfully if caught early enough.