Skin cancer specialist warns sun awareness message still not being followed
A LEADING Chelmsford consultant dermatologist warned this week that the public is still showing alarming ignorance of the dangers of skin cancer caused by over exposure to sunshine.
Dr Stephanie Lateo to urge people to heed warnings of skin cancer which has seen the number of melanoma cases alone quadruple since the mid-1970s and annual incidents rise to almost 15,000 a year in the UK.
Dr Lateo is a consultant dermatologist at Baddow Hospital. She has more than 17 years experience working in dermatology and her work focuses on the treatment of skin cancer, pre-cancerous skin lesions, mole screening and skin surgery.
“Despite widespread coverage of the subject in recent years, figures show the rate of skin cancer is still increasing. Some of this increase will be down to better detection but there remains an awful lot to do to educate people about better protecting their skin from the sun.
“One of the chief reasons for the increase in skin cancers is undoubtedly the fact that foreign travel has become so much more affordable. People jet off for their two weeks in the sun, determined to soak up every last bit of sunshine. We don’t want to be killjoys but people should realise the importance of behaving responsibly when it comes to protecting their skin and that of their children.” said Dr Lateo. “The skin has a memory! The harmful effects of too much sun exposure accumulate throughout our lives from childhood, so excessive sun exposure in youth can give rise to skin cancers later on. So make sure you protect your children from the sun and ensure they never sunburn.”
She offered the following advice to people to help protect their skin:
- Understand your skin type – fairer skin with lots of freckles that burns easily is most vulnerable and needs particularly strong protection
- Cover up with a t-shirt, hat and sunglasses
- Stay in the shade between 11am and 3pm
- Use a sunscreen of at least factor 30 and a UVA protection of four or five stars. Reapply every few hours and use liberally. One of the biggest mistakes people make is not applying enough sunscreen
As with all cancers, early detection is important when treating skin cancers and Dr Lateo urged people to keep a particularly watchful eye on their moles – although not all skin cancer by any means stems from moles.
“Use the A-B-C-D mole checklist: is the mole asymmetrical, are its borders irregular, are there different colours within a mole and is the diameter of the mole increasing in size. Regular check-ups, particularly if you have a history of skin cancer or have had much sun exposure in the past, are advisable,” she said.
Dr Lateo runs regular mole clinics at Baddow Hospital. She uses a dermatoscope, a special magnification device which helps identify abnormal moles and melanoma. If a mole is suspicious it can be surgically removed under local anesthetic and submitted for examination.
“If we are to stem the rising tide of people being affected by skin cancer, we must pay much more attention to sun awareness, protection and checking. We all like to be out in the sunshine but we must take care of our skin. Some people tell themselves that vitamin D from the sun is good for them, but you can get your vitamin D safely from a sensible diet – oily fish is very good – and, if necessary, health supplements. Lying in the sun, ill-protected, for hours on end is definitely not the answer!”
In addition to the mole clinic, Baddow Hospital runs a number of specialist health services, both privately and to NHS patients via local NHS Trust contracts.
Further information on sun awareness and skin cancer can be obtained from the British Association of Dermatologists website, www.bad.org.uk
If you would like to know more or if you would like to book a dermatology appointment simply call our friendly and helpful team on 01245 474070 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org