Melanoma-what you need to know

Using a good sunblock with an SPF of at least 50 isn’t just about avoiding wrinkles, it might just save your life.   Sunshine is a leading cause of malignant melanoma, otherwise known as cancer of the skin.

Malignant melanoma is the fourth commonest cancer in Ireland.  Over one thousand new cases are diagnosed in this country every year and rates are set to more than double in both men and women in the next number of decades.  Thankfully, the cast majority of people are diagnosed at an early stage and survival rates are high for this type of cancer.but even  so, skin cancer can, and should, be prevented.

So what can you do to avoid skin cancer?

  1. Use a good sun-block-at least SPF 50.  Apply liberally to sun exposed areas and re-apply every few hours, especially if you’ve been swimming.  It might seem crazy to do this in Ireland where we get so little sun, but remember, our typical pale Irish skin is very easily damaged by sunshine.
  2. Cover-up.  Cover the arms, back and back of the neck.  If possible, look for clothing with an SPF value.  For men, don’t forget to cover up the bald patch, if you have one.
  3. Avoid the sun.  Just stay out of the sun, keep indoors or in the shade when the sun is at its strongest in the mid-afternoon.

What should you look for?

Check your moles regularly and when you do, remember your ABCDE.

A: Asymmetry-the two halves of the mole do not match.

B. The Borders of the mole are uneven.

C.  The Colour of the mole has changed or darkened.

D.  The Diameter is greater than 6mm.

E.  The mole is Evolving ie growing, changing, itching, or bleeding.

February 4th is World Cancer Day.  This information is not a substitute for medical advice.  If you are worried about any symptoms, always talk to a doctor.