Preventing Skin Cancer, Northern Ireland's Number 1 Cancer.


The Western Trust's Health Improvement Department is reminding people of the dangers of exposure to the sun and the use of sun beds as Sun Week begins on Monday 9 May.

There will be an opportunity for people to receive information on care in sun and have their skin scanned in Lisnagelvin Shopping Centre on Monday 9 May between 12 noon and 3pm and at Foyleside Shopping Centre on Tuesday 10 May between 11am and 2 pm.


Dr Maura O’Neill from the Western Trust’s Health Improvement Department said: “The message is to enjoy the sun safely, wear sun cream factor 15 or above, and wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes. Avoid sun beds and stay out of the midday sun. The Health Improvement Department have been targeting young people from early teens upwards in post primary schools, colleges, universities and within local communities to drive the message home about the dangers of sun bed use and care in the sun, both of which can have seriously damaging effects on the skin.”


Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Northern Ireland and accounts for one in every four cancers with the rates of malignant melanoma rising rapidly among young people. Since the late 1970s there has been a tripling in melanoma rates among 15 to 34 year olds and experts believe that, along with binge tanning on foreign holidays, the use of sun beds is a primary cause. Research shows that using a sun bed once a month or more can increase the risk of developing skin cancer by more than half and using sun beds before the age of 35 years can increase the risk of developing melanoma skin cancer by up to 75%.


Sunburn in childhood is also believed to increase the risk of developing skin cancer in later life, so it is vital that children are adequately protected from the sun. Many people in Northern Ireland are of the view that they don’t need to wear sun cream at home, with only one in seven people reporting to use it. However UV rays can penetrate thin cloud and this can lead to burning; the more burnings a person gets the higher their risk of skin cancer. Melanoma is largely preventable by avoiding sunburn.


Most skin cancers can be successfully treated if caught early enough, if any of your moles change size, shape or colour, or become itchy, sore, weep or bleed, see a doctor, or if you’ve been in the sun and feel dizzy or exhausted seek medical advice.