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03 May 2019

How to stay safe in the sun

This Sun Awareness Week (6-12 May) Macmillan Melanoma Nurse Gemma Shaw, based at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, wants to remind everyone to stay safe in the sun during the summer months.

Gemma said: "Skin cancer, if caught early, is very treatable and actually has one of the highest survival rates of all cancers. Being sun aware is key. My 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."

 To help keep you safe in the sun, Gemma advises following top sun protection tips below: 

  • Spend time in the shade during the sunniest part of the day when the sun is at its strongest, which is usually between 11am and 3pm in the summer months.
  •  Avoid direct sun exposure for babies and very young children.
  • When it is not possible to stay out of the sun, keeping yourself well covered, with a hat, T-shirt, and sunglasses can give you additional protection.
  • Apply sunscreen liberally to exposed areas of skin. Re-apply every two hours and straight after swimming or towelling in order to maintain protection. 

The number of people developing melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, 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)1.  It is the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK, and slightly more common in women than in men2.With all of the varying types combined, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the UK.

 The below guide is a useful tool for checking your skin for the signs of melanoma skin cancer, which you should do once a month. If you have any concerns make an appointment to see your GP.

  •  Asymmetry - the two halves of the area may differ in shape
  •  Border - the edges of the area may be irregular or blurred, and sometimes show notches
  •  Colour - this may be uneven. Different shades of black, brown and pink may be seen
  •  Diameter - most melanomas are at least 6mm in diameter. Report any change in size, shape or diameter to your doctor
  •  Expert - if in doubt, check it out! If your GP is concerned about your skin, make sure you see a Consultant Dermatologist, the most expert person to diagnose a skin cancer. Your GP can refer you via the NHS

 Signs of non-melanoma skin cancer may include:

 A scab or sore that won't heal. It may also bleed occasionally 

  • A scaly or crusty patch of skin that looks red or inflamed 
  • A flesh coloured, pearly lump that won't go away and appears to be growing in size 
  • A lump on the skin which is getting bigger and that may be scabby 
  • A growth with a pearly rim surrounding a central crater, a bit like an upturned volcano

 To find out more about skin cancer and the signs and symptoms to look out for visit: