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Stay safe in the sun

sun safety 2017 sandbanks

Beach goers were advised to consult their GP after Poole Hospital's sun safety awareness event

More than 10 per cent of the public who attended Poole Hospital’s sun safety awareness event at Sandbanks were advised to consult their GP because of concerns about the possibility of cancerous moles.

From the 61 people who were examined on the day, seven had potentially cancerous moles.

These findings come after it was revealed that cases of skin cancer (melanoma) have increased by more than 10 per cent in five years.

In 2011, the hospital saw 101 new cases of melanoma. Last year that figure rose to 112.

To try and combat this rise, experts from the hospital visited Sandbanks on 20 July to dispense vital, and potentially life-saving, sun safety information as well as providing the free mole and skin checks.

Juliet Hately, lead skin cancer nurse specialist at Poole Hospital, has some recommendations for checking for cancerous moles. “The earlier you get your skin checked, the better. We see people with skin cancer that they have had for some time and unfortunately for some it has spread to other parts of the body.” she said.

“We always recommend that if you have anything on your skin that isn’t healing or see any changes in your moles, you should see your GP as soon as you can.

“I think a lot of people we spoke to were surprised about the risks of sun exposure, many hadn’t thought about the consequences of achieving a ‘holiday tan’.”

Beach goer Sarah Spencer who attended the event was surprised about the statistics. “I don’t think people are aware of the dangers of the sun,” she said. 

“This increase in skin cancer is awful especially with the education we’ve got. You need to the get the message over, especially to young people.”

Dr Caroline Morgan, lead consultant dermatologist at Poole Hospital, said excessive sun exposure causes most skin cancers.

“Melanoma is increasing every year in Dorset and this event is integral in educating people on how to stay safe in the sun and how to look after your skin properly,” she said.

“Sunburn as a child can double the risk of developing malignant melanoma later in life.

“Most skin cancers are caused by excess exposure to the sun and are often entirely preventable.

“The majority of skin cancers are curable if caught at an early stage. It’s recommended that you check at least once a month for new or changing moles. Our aim is for people to enjoy the sun without the risk of developing skin cancer.”

Caroline says the high rates in Dorset - among the highest in the UK – are down to factors including the outdoor lifestyle, sailing and an ageing population.

Caroline encourages the public to heed the following sun safety tips:

  • Clothes are the first line of defence, so wear a t-shirt, a hat and UV protective sunglasses in addition to sunscreen. Stay in the shade when the sun is at its hottest between 11am and 3pm
  • Use sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 with a four or five star UVA rating on the bottle, even on cloudy days. This will also help protect against skin ageing.
  • Apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes before sun exposure so your skin has time to absorb it. Reapply at least every two hours.
  • The sun is normally at its strongest between 11am-3pm so seeking shade is advised. Just 10 minutes of strong sunshine is all it takes to burn pale skin.
  • Babies and toddlers should be kept out of direct sunlight.

 

Sun awareness event 2017 at Sanbanks beach

Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Longfleet Road, Poole, Dorset BH15 2JB. Tel: 01202 665511

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