Spotlight on: Skin Cancer Awareness Month

·2-min read

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, so there's no better time to shine the spotlight on this very common type of cancer.

In the U.K. alone, it's estimated that one in 36 males and one in 47 females will be diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer in their lifetime.

According to the National Health Service (NHS), it's the fifth most common type of cancer, with the increase in numbers over the years blamed on intense sun exposure while on holiday.

It's usually diagnosed following a change in the appearance of moles on the body, or a new mole appearing, and, if caught early, surgery has a high chance of being successful.

Melanomas are uncommon in areas that are protected from sun exposure, such as the buttocks and the scalp, meaning protecting the skin you have on show is vitally important.

Certain features can increase your chance of developing melanoma, such as having: lots of moles or freckles, pale skin that burns easily, red or blonde hair, and a close family member who's had melanoma - but it can affect anyone.

Dr Arreni Somasegaran from Define Clinic, Beaconsfield, spoke to us about the importance of using SPF on a daily basis.

"By introducing SPF into your daily routine, you can reduce the potentially damaging effects of UV rays and significantly reduce the risk of skin cancer," Dr Somasegaran stated. "I recommend going for a product which is between SPF 30-50 and I always say SPF is non-negotiable and has to be re-applied every two hours."

She also cleared up myths surrounding SPF, starting with the fact that it shouldn't just be used while on holiday or when the sun is shining.

"In truth, whether it's cloudy or snowing, you need to apply SPF the same way you would on a warm, sunny day as UV rays are still able to penetrate through the clouds," she implored. "Some people think if they are wearing make-up products containing SPF they don't need to apply anything else. A lot of the time, if make-up products do contain SPF, it's below 30, which is the minimum protection anyone should look for. For optimal protection, use a separate sunscreen beneath your make-up and reapply every few hours with a powder SPF.

"Another myth is that if you wear SPF 50 it will last you the whole day, but no matter the SPF number, it has to be applied every two hours. The number associated with SPF indicates the level of protection, not how long it lasts."

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