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16 August 2002

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Trust dermatology staff warn of the dangers of sun-related skin cancer.  Southport & Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust's dermatology staff are warning people of the dangers of sun-related skin cancer. The message from the team, who are based at the new dermatology unit in Ormskirk, is don't let the sun spoil your fun!

Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the UK, but despite national campaigns to raise awareness, many people are still putting themselves and their families in danger.

Consultant Dermatologist at the Trust, Dr Aamir Memon, said:- "One of the biggest problems is that people don't think there is enough sunshine in this country to put them at risk. We might not see as much as we'd like, but this doesn't mean we don't need to take precautions. In at least four out of five cases, skin cancer is a preventable disease. Over 1,000 people die from the most dangerous form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma, each year. We want people to stay safe and if they have any concerns whatsoever, to seek advice."

Essential skin cancer facts.

· Visible sunburn must be avoided by people of all ages. There is no such thing as a healthy tan
· Excessive sun exposure, particularly sunburn in the under 15s, is a major risk factor for skin cancer in later life
· People who develop skin cancer do not always have a history of deliberate sunbathing. Those who have an outdoor occupation or take part in an outdoor recreation (e.g. golfing, gardening or sailing) are also at risk

· A tan is a sign that damaged skin is trying to protect itself from further
harm. The protecting power of a tan is weaker than a mild sunscreen 

Top sun safety tips.

· Avoid noon day sun between 11am and 3pm
· Seek natural shade in the form of trees or other shelter 
· Use clothing as a sunscreen - including T-shirts, long sleeved shirts and hats
· Use a high factor sunscreen

Check your moles.

Moles are checked using a seven-point checklist, which includes any change
in size, shape or colours.

Dr Memon added:- "We also look for any moles which are more than 6mm in diameter, any inflammation, oozing or bleeding, itching or altered sensation. If people notice their moles altering in any way, they should contact their GPs as soon as possible."
Southport Reporter would also like to add this:-
Did you know?  It's estimated that children receive 50% of their total lifetime sun exposure by the age of 18. Sun burn is red, itchy and tender. If your child suffers, do the following:-

· Cover the skin with light clothing or a towel, move them indoors and encourage them to drink as much as possible. 
· Apply cool compresses to affected areas. 
· Use calamine cream, or a menthol after sun or aloe vera gel to cool and reduce pain. 
· When the itching has gone, use emollients (heavy moisturisers) to reduce sun damage. 
· If blistering occurs, seek medical advice to avoid infection. 

For more treatments of sun burn visit:-
British Red Cross Society & St John Ambulance

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Southport Reporter is Trade Mark of Patrick Trollope.   Copyright © Patrick Trollope 2002.