UK, skin cancer specialists to check out moles

Macmillan skin cancer nurse, Denise Hancock, and colleagues from the Dermatology Department at Southampton University Hospitals Trust are inviting members of the public to 'check out their moles' at a Mole Watch Day in Marks and Spencer in West Quay on Wednesday 12 May, from 9am-5pm.

The Mole Watch Day is part of Cancer Research UK's SunSmart Campaign, which is raising awareness of how to be safer in the sun and protect against skin cancer. This year, the campaign is particularly targeting children and young people, as young skin is more delicate and sunburn in childhood can significantly increase the chance of getting skin cancer later in life.

More people are being diagnosed with skin cancer every year but if it is caught early, it can be treated effectively. Skin cancer often develops from moles, but many people do not know what to look for. During the Mole Watch Day on 12 May, several skin cancer specialists, dermatologists and nurses will be available to look at moles that might be worrying members of the public. Anyone is invited to drop in, the ladies section being upstairs in the lingerie department, and men downstairs in menswear.

Denise Hancock, Macmillan Skin Cancer Nurse, says, 'We would like anyone who is concerned about skin cancer or a mole they think might be abnormal to come and visit us in Marks and Spencer on the 12 May. It is so important that people are aware of the need to keep an eye on their moles, because early diagnosis makes a difference to the success of treatment for skin cancer.' 

The health professionals will also be giving advice and information about how to be safer in the sun. Britain already has more deaths from skin cancer than Australia, where a 20 year campaign of sun awareness has recently reaped great benefits with incidence of melanoma in the younger generation falling for the first time. The SunSmart aims to have the same effect in the UK, encouraging people to adopt the SunSmart code as second-nature whenever they are in the sun.

To be SunSmart:

· Stay in the shade between 11am-3pm
· Make sure you never burn
· Always cover up with a T shirt, wide brimmed hat and wraparound sunglasses
· Remember to take extra care with children
· Then use factor 15 plus sunscreen

Also report any mole changes or unusual skin growths promptly to your GP.

Dr Charlotte Proby, a leading dermatologist from Cancer Research UK, says, 'Almost 7,000 people in the UK were diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 2000 and the numbers are rising steadily. It is largely a preventable cancer and we need to ensure that the public knows how to reduce their risk.

'This year the SunSmart campaign will be providing information to schools, colleges, parents and doctors' surgeries urging people to protect themselves and their children in the sun and to be aware of any changes in existing moles or new ones appearing.'

'The message is getting through slowly but, as the survey indicates, there is still widespread ignorance about the potential danger of sunburn.'

The Mole Watch Day is being supported by Macmillan Cancer Relief, Cancer Research UK, and the Wessex Cancer Trust. For more information on how to be SunSmart, visit www.sunsmart.org.uk.

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