To mark Sun Awareness Week, a Macmillan Skin Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist based at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, is urging local people to stay safe in the sun and be aware of changes to their skin.
In 2018, 1,336 patients were diagnosed with skin cancer, with 91 being diagnosed with life threatening melanoma. Specialists say that the majority of skin cancers are caused by sun damage and are using this week to share advice about the importance of protecting your skin.
Tina Phillips, Macmillan Skin Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist, said: “Most people only think about sun protection when they are on holiday, or when the weather is hot, whereas it should be part of your daily routine- especially if you work outside, as you can get UV damage on a cloudy day.
“Sun screen should be applied at least 20 minutes prior to going outside and the average adult should apply at least a teaspoon of sun screen to each arm, leg, and front and back of body, not forgetting half a tea spoon to the face. No matter what the sun screen directions say, sun cream should always be reapplied every two hours.
“People should also check their skin from top to toe, including nails, on a monthly basis and seek medical advice if moles change shape or colour, have an irregular outline, get bigger, start to itch or bleed. There are lots of small changes a person can make to their skin care routines which can make a big difference.”
Stuart Plane, 40, from Old Town, Swindon, was diagnosed with melanoma in 2015. He underwent three months of treatment before being given the all-clear. Stuart receives regular check-ups at Great Western Hospital to ensure the melanoma does not return.
“My wife noticed that a mole on my leg had changed. I went to the doctors and was referred to Great Western Hospital by the end of the week. I had the mole removed under local anaesthetic and confirmation that it was a malignant melanoma.
“I then had a wide-local excision and a lymph node removed. This involved general anaesthetic but I was home the same day and it was confirmed this had not spread.
“There was no specific cause given for the melanoma other than I am a redhead and burn easily. I have always been very careful around the sun, apply plenty of sun cream and generally keep covered up.
“I cannot speak highly enough of the care and information that I have been given through this.”
Alan Tomlin, 70, from Marlborough, said: “When we were in our 20s, a friend of mine, Dick, sadly died of melanoma. He had a distinctive mole on his shoulder but did not get it looked at.
“Last year, I found a similar looking mole on my leg and went straight to my GP. The team at Great Western removed the melanoma and I have regular check-ups to make sure it hasn’t spread.
“If it hadn’t have been for Dick, I wouldn’t have wanted to bother the doctors with my mole but I knew what I was looking for. I’d advise anybody to go to their GP if they are not 100% sure about a mole. It’s better to be checked out.”