Sun Safety Awareness Week In May

Sun Safety Awareness Week In May

The South East has the second highest incidence of skin cancer in England and the UK as a whole has seen a massive 360% rise in cases since the 1970s. (1) For Sun Safety Awareness Week in May, East Sussex Outpatient Services (ESOPS) is urging us to take our skin health more seriously.

Rates of skin cancer are increasing year on year. In the South East 21.4 people per 100,000 men and 20.4 per 100,000 women were diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 2011 (the most deadly form of the disease) (2). In excess of 2,150 people die from malignant melanoma every year in the UK. (3)

Consultant dermatologist Dr Jan von der Werth from East Sussex Outpatient Services (ESOPS) says: “Over the last 10 years I have seen a marked increase in skin cancer cases in my clinic. Once your skin is burnt, a certain level of damage has already been done, which can lead to a cancer developing, possibly many years in the future.”

The rise in cases can be linked to increased use of sunbeds and more frequent foreign holidays. Although many people are concerned about skin cancer, they are still allowing themselves to get sun damage, say the British Association of Dermatologists.

In contrast to most cancer types, malignant melanoma occurs relatively frequently in younger age groups, especially young females, although this pattern reverses in older people. (4)

The majority of skin cancers are non-melanoma skin cancers, that are slow growing and can be cured with treatment. Malignant melanoma is a rarer and more serious form. It needs to be treated early as it can grow quickly.

Those at higher risk of developing the disease include people with a history of sunburn or overexposure to the sun in childhood, fair skinned people and those who work outdoors. Also those who regularly use sun beds and sun lamps – the intensity of some of the UV rays they give off can be 10 to 15 times higher than that of the midday sun.( 5)

The advice? Avoid the midday sun, cover up with a t-shirt, hat and sunglasses, use sunscreen with at least SPF 15, and avoid sunbeds.

See your GP if you have any lumps or discoloured patches on your skin that appear gradually and get bigger over time. Or if you have any patches of skin that are scaly, crusted, itchy or painful.

East Sussex Outpatients Service offers a consultant-led dermatology clinic. In partnership with the NHS, it offers patients a rapidly accessible service for diagnosis and initial treatment of undiagnosed rashes and lesions.

About East Sussex Outpatient Services (ESOPS):
ESOPS offers an NHS-covered alternative to going to the local hospital for a vast range of specialist diagnostic tests, procedures and consultations. It has welcomed in excess of 25,000 patients over the past decade.

With clinics in Eastbourne, on South Cliff and Peacehaven, on Meridian Way, ESOPS works alongside local hospitals which helps to reduce waiting times for many procedures. Offering services in urology, gastroenterology, dermatology, ophthalmology, colorectal, among many others, ESOPS is an independent provider to the NHS.
Sun Safety Awareness Week (May 9 -15)
Run by the British Association of Dermatologists to spread the message about the dangers of sunburn and excessive tanning.