Skin cancer is the world’s most common cancer. As cases continue to rise at epidemic proportions, we must take charge of our skin health and surveillance.
In support of National Skin Cancer Awareness Month, skin cancer charity SKCIN explains the important role of the UV index and sun protection in preventing skin cancer.
How prevalent is skin cancer in the UK?
About one in four men and one in five women will be diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer. Over 210,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed annually in the UK with cases expected to reach 400,000 annually by 2025.
Approximately 1 in 36 men and 1 in 47 women will be diagnosed with melanoma during their lifetime, and it is one of the biggest killing cancers in the 15–34 age group. However, the good news is that around 90% of all cases are preventable. Moreover, it is the only cancer type we can physically see developing in its early stages, so with education, we can reverse these statistics and save many lives.
What causes skin cancer?
Around 90% of all skin cancers are caused by overexposure to UV radiation from the sun and/or sun beds. Sunburn, reddening, peeling and even tanning of the skin, are clear indications of sun damage. While many people associate a tan with looking healthy, it is actually a sign that our skin has been harmed by UV radiation and is trying to defend itself against further damage.
Without sun protection, UV radiation starts to penetrate deep into the layers of the skin, causing damage to the DNA in our skin cells. Damage from UV is cumulative and irreparable. Therefore, once the tan fades, the damage remains, which can lead to the development of all types of skin cancer.
Around 90% of all skin cancers are caused by overexposure to UV radiation from the sun and/or sun beds.
How should we protect our skin from UV radiation?
Around 90% of skin cancers can be avoided by adopting simple sun-safe strategies. Simply check the daily UV index; and when UV levels reach 3 or above, use sun protection.
Protect your skin by following Skcin’s ‘Five S’ approach to sun safety: (1) Slip on clothing; (2) Slop on sunscreen; (3) Slap on a sun hat; (4) Slide on sunglasses; (5) Shade from the sun.
Early diagnosis of skin cancer can save lives. Everyone should keep track of their skin health and use sun protection. Skin cancer affects all skin types, which is why we must help each other make better decisions for our skin.