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North West Cancer Research has recently reported that 15,906 new cases of melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed in the UK, and of which, 86% are preventable. Therefore, they’re committed to helping educate people on the early signs of how to spot skin cancer.
Watch above as Rach meets North West Cancer Research CEO, Alastair Richards to hear his own skin cancer story and to get some advice on how you can protect yourself.
A recent survey completed by the charity found that 31% of people never check for signs of skin cancer, and 85% of people have never been to their GP to get a mole checked.
Only 30% of the 900 people surveyed knew the early warning signs of skin cancer. So, North West Cancer Research want to remind the region’s population of the ABCDE mole check strategy, which is NHS recommended – despite 90% of people not knowing what it is.
Asymmetry: Does the mole look uneven of misshapen?
Border: Is the edge of the mole blurred?
Colour: Is it a mix of shades, has your mole darkened since the last time you checked?
Diameter: Is it bigger that 6mm?
Elevation or enlargement: Has it changed in shape or become raised above the skin’s surface?
Dr Rowan Pritchard Jones, Consultant Plastic Surgeon at Whiston Hospital who is currently working on a skin cancer research project funded by NWCR, said: “Skin cancer is one of the major cancer killers in the UK, but if it is caught early enough then patients can have a good prognosis.
“Changes in your moles, as well as the appearance of new moles and skin blemishes, are potential markers of skin cancer. Get to know your skin and make sure you check it regularly for any changes.
“You should also look out for itching, bleeding and crusting and contact your GP straight away if you spot these symptoms, who will usually refer you to a skin specialist.”
Understanding and implementing the ABCDE model to spot skin cancer in its early stages is just one side of the coin – the other being protection for to help with prevention. Lack of sun cream and frequent sunbeds are two of the biggest factors behind increased chances of developing skin cancer.
Everyone is aware of the benefits of getting out in the sunshine, and the vitamin D that our bodies create, but the over exposure to UV rays is harmful for our skin.
Despite 95% of us knowing the risks of sunbeds, over half (51%) of North West Cancer Research’s recent survey participants have used a sunbed. The survey also found that the most popular reasons for using a sunbed were before a holiday (56%), during the winter (24%) and maintaining a year-round tan (24%).
The NHS have cited that many sunbeds give out greater doses of UV rays than the midday topical sun, yet 61% use a sunbed every two or three months.
The other way in which to reduce the risk of skin cancer, other than minimising sunbed use, is through sun cream application.
A massive 80% of people admitted to having been burnt when sunbathing and despite this, 47% of people are still not reapplying sun cream often enough.
When considering which sun cream to put our skin’s safety in the hands of, it is important to know the difference between UVA and UVB protection – something that 65% of people do not know.
UVA has a longer wavelength and is associated with skin aging. Whereas, UVB has a shorter wavelength and is associated with skin burning. Despite affecting your skin in different ways, they both cause harm and can lead to skin cancer. Therefore, it is important to find a sun cream that protects against both.
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