11 May 2015
With summer just around the corner, Macmillan skin cancer nurses from Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB) are backing the British Association of Dermatologist’s Sun Awareness Week (4-10 May 2015) by urging people to stay safe in the sun.
The number of people developing melanoma is continuing to rise, with around 110,330 people living with malignant melanoma in the UK, and 13,500 people diagnosed every year, (around 37 people every day). It is the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK, and slightly more common in women than in men. It is one of the most common cancers in people aged 15–34 although like most cancers, it’s more common in older people.
There are five Macmillan skin cancer nurses at QEHB providing support for patients affected by skin cancer, following the adoption of two members of the team by the charity last year. Clair McGarr, Macmillan Lead Skin Cancer Nurse Specialist at QEHB says; 'Most melanoma’s are linked to over exposure to UV rays from the sun or a sunbed.'
'About half of all melanomas start with a change in previously normal-looking skin. This usually looks like a dark area or an abnormal new mole. Other melanomas develop from a mole or freckle that you already have - maybe a mole that changes in size, shape or colour. If you are worried about any changes on your skin you should visit your GP.'
Clair adds; 'Skin cancer, if caught early, is very treatable and actually has one of the highest survival rates of all cancers and being sun aware is key. Our advice is to avoid sun beds, wear a high SPF sun screen with a four star rating or more so it will block out UVA as well as UVB rays, and cover up in the sun.'
Macmillan Cancer Support advises to visit your doctor straight away if you have:
- any unusual marks on the skin that last for more than a few weeks
- a mole that changes in size or shape
- something growing under a nail or a new dark-coloured stripe along part of the nail.
Clair and her team support their patients throughout all stages of their cancer journey, from the point of diagnosis through to survivorship, or until the palliative phase of their illness. They provide patients, and their carers and relatives, with appropriate advice, information and support and also refer them on to other agencies for additional support as required.
If you have questions about skin cancer, or are worried about your symptoms, call Macmillan on 0800 808 00 00 or visit www.macmillan.org.uk