Melanoma, or skin cancer, is one of the most common forms of cancer diagnosed in the UK. Like with most cancers, there are varying stages which can have different health implications and require different treatments.
For some, the risk is much higher than others. For example, those with fair hair and light eyes are more at risk of melanoma than others. Additionally, the most common diagnosis in women aged 25-29 is melanoma. However, it’s still possible to be diagnosed with melanoma even if you’re not at a higher risk group. That’s why it’s important to protect yourself against this in order to help prevent the cancer.
How to help prevent melanoma
The good news is, there are things that you can easily do yourself to help prevent melanoma, or catch the cancer quick enough so that it is treated effectively.
Know your skin
The best way to help prevent or detect melanoma is to know your own skin. Know where your freckles and moles lie, and check them regularly in order to quickly detect any changes. A monthly check-up of your skin is all the effort required. When you are looking, be sure to check for moles which are growing asymmetrical or uneven, those which have grown noticeably in thickness or size, irregular borders or moles which appear to have multiple colours. If you think something has changed, or there’s something you’re not sure about, make an appointment with your GP to discuss.
One of the easiest ways to protect your skin is by wearing sunscreen, so try to make this a daily habit. Even in the winter, your face can still be damaged by the sun – you only need to look at some skiers with their unfortunate mask tan lines to see this – so it’s important you always wear SPF sunscreen when spending any length of time in the sun. The best sunscreens to use are those which protect against both UVA and UVB rays, and are at least SPF30.
Wear protective clothing
Protective clothing can also help fight sun damage and protect your skin from harmful rays. By simply wearing a hat, sunglasses and protective clothing, you can give your skin that extra layer of protection – or shield those areas you can’t cover with cream, like your scalp.
Sunbeds are often used by men and women as a way to tan their skin, even when there’s no sun outside – which can be quite often in Scotland. However, indoor tanning through sunbeds has been shown to increase the risk of melanoma by up to 75%. If you are looking to achieve that tanned glow, there are plenty of self-tanning creams or spray tans available that can do the job without increasing the risk of cancer.
Stay away at peak times
The sun is generally at its strongest between around 11am and 3pm in the UK, so limit your sun exposure during this period, or try to avoid altogether if possible. If you do have to venture out into peak rays, be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen and cover up with hats, sunglasses and clothing as needed.
If you’d like a skin check-up, or to discuss melanoma, please email firstname.lastname@example.org