Cancer warning as temperatures rise

The sunrise over Lough Foyle and County Derry in the distance from Quigley's Point, Inishowen, County Donegal.
The sunrise over Lough Foyle and County Derry in the distance from Quigley's Point, Inishowen, County Donegal.

The Western Health Trust has issued a reminder to local people to be aware of prolonged exposure to the sun without using protection.

The warnings has been issued as temperatures rose sharply across Derry and Donegal over the past few days.

The Trust’s Health Improvement Department is also marking ‘Care in the Sun Week, which got under way yesterday.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the north and accounts for one in every four cancers.

Rates of malignant melanoma have been rising rapidly among young people, and since the late 1970s melanoma rates have trebled among 15 to 34 year olds.

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 50%, and using sun beds before the age of 35 years can increase the risk of developing melanoma skin cancer by up to 75%.

A Trust spokesperson said: “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.”

Advice issued includes: wearing sun cream factor 15 or above; wearing a hat and sunglasses to protect your eyes; avoiding sun beds; and staying out of the midday sun.

It is also important to check skin regularly throughout the whole body for new spots, or existing spots and moles that have changed colour, size or shape.