Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and rates have been climbing since the 1960s, and although many are aware of the risks posed by sun exposure, protective measures are often not taken fully.
According to a study carried out by the British Association of Dermatologists, 96% of Brits fail to check their skin the recommended once a month for skin cancer, and more than 77% would not recognise signs of the disease.
On top of that, 72% of people admitted that they had been sunburned in the last year, which is a worrying example of either a lack of knowledge or cavalier attitude towards sun protection, given that the risk of developing melanoma is more than doubled in people with a history of sunburn compared with people who have never been sunburned.
Poor protection habits
“Almost three-quarters of people we surveyed admitted that they had been sunburned in the last year, which is shocking. With sunny days already making an appearance in parts of the UK, it is likely that this figure will remain high this year,” comments Johnathon Major of the British Association of Dermatologists.
“This is a reflection of poor sun protection habits – people underestimate the damage that sunburn can do to their skin, and many think that skin reddening is just a harmless part of the tanning process, rather than a sure sign that you have damaged your skin irreparably.”
Charlotte Proby, Professor of Dermatology at Ninewells Hospital and Medical School in Dundee, and Chair of the British Association of Dermatologists’ Skin Cancer Prevention Committee adds that rising skin cancer rates are a major health concern for the UK, and some dermatology departments are stretched to capacity trying to keep up with cases.
“Many people in the UK are aware of the dangers; however, this has yet to translate into a culture of sun protection and skin checking which would do a lot to curb the incidence and deaths from this disease,” she says.
Tessa Tysome of La Roche-Posay, the brand sponsoring Sun Care Awareness Week (May 4-10, 2015) explains that UV sun damage is a serious issue that many people underestimate and that campaigns such as this need to be carried out to help raise awareness.
Sun Awareness Week 2015 will culminate in an event at the Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush, London, in which consultant dermatologists from the British Association of Dermatologists and nurse volunteers will be on hand to speak to the public and educate them on how to check their skin for skin cancer and provide information on sun protection techniques.
There will also be a UV photo-booth to demonstrate the effect of sun damage on the skin, giving the public the opportunity to upload their pictures to social media websites during the event.