Skin cancer is the number one cancer in Northern Ireland and accounts for more than a quarter of all individuals diagnosed with cancer. Research shows there has been an increase in cases over the years of malignant melanoma, the least common but most serious form of skin cancer, with cases nearly trebling in 25 years.¹
Excessive ultra violet (UV) exposure either from the sun or from using a sunbed is the main cause of skin cancer. Using a sunbed before the age of 35 can increase the risk of developing melanoma skin cancer by up to 75%, especially among young people. ²
The PHA is again raising awareness of the health risks associated with sunbeds, urging people to avoid them. “There is no such thing as a safe tan,” says Dr Bernadette Cullen, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, PHA. She says keeping safe from harmful rays is the best form of protection and will help towards reducing the risk of developing skin cancer.
“As we move towards warmer weather, it’s important to remember the ‘care in the sun’ messages. Sunburn, especially in childhood, increases the risk of skin cancer. There are simple steps we can take to protect ourselves from harmful rays to avoid the risk of developing skin cancer, such as seeking shade between 11am and 3pm, covering up with clothes and wide brimmed hats, wearing a high factor sunscreen and reducing the time we’re exposed to the sun.”
Dr Cullen added: “It’s also important for everyone to examine their skin regularly and to watch for early signs and be aware of any changes on your skin. If you notice a lump, a sore which does not heal, a mole which changes shape, size, colour or bleeds easily, or if you have any concerns, seek advice from your GP early.”
Notes to the editor
1. Smith A, & Gavin A. Care of Patients with Malignant Melanoma of Skin in Northern Ireland 2006. N. Ireland Cancer Registry, 2008
2. World Health Organization. International Agency for Research on Cancer. Exposure to artificial UV Radiation and Skin Cancer. WHO: 2006
3. The PHA’s Sunbed campaign was launched in August 2010. Its aim was to raise awareness of the health risks in using sunbeds.
4. The PHA is part of the Northern Ireland Melanoma Strategy Implementation Group, which works with partners across health, other sectors and voluntary organisations to raise awareness and promote care in the sun.
5. For further advice visit www.careinthesun.org
Contact the PHA Press Office on 028 9031 1611.