Skin cancer – a red flag
A recent study by Which? hit the headlines recently for finding that two sun tan lotions offered only two-thirds of the skin protection they should. Both brands dispute the allegations and have advised consumers that their products have undergone rigorous testing and do provide the level of protection advertised.
The purpose of the study was to check that sun creams were providing the Sun Protection Factor (SPF) that they were claiming. Sun cream protects your skin from harmful UVA and UVB radiation, both of which have been linked to skin cancer. The study raises the wider issue of sun protection and how it is used.
A survey by the British Association of Dermatologists revealed that 72% of us admitted to getting sunburnt last year. In fact the risk of developing the most deadly form of skin cancer, melanoma, is more than doubled in people with a history of sunburn.
Worryingly, up to 81% of people surveyed also felt unable to identify signs of skin cancer with 96% failing to check their skin the recommended once a month.
The number of skin cancer cases in the UK has been increasing since the 1960s with the rise of cheap overseas holidays being held responsible. It is estimated that over 263,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year. In a society where cancer awareness is so prevalent it is surprising that so many people fail to recognise the long-term damage that the sun can do.
Charlotte Proby, Chair of the British Association of Dermatologists’ Skin Cancer Prevention Committee has summarised the situation perfectly: “Many people in the UK are aware of the dangers; however, this has yet to translate into a culture of sun protection and skin checking which would do a lot to curb the incidence and deaths from this disease.”
The link between sun exposure and skin cancer is widely known and yet a candid attitude towards sun protection remains.
Unfortunately, even after identifying worrying symptoms and meeting with their doctor to discuss them, some patients don’t receive appropriate treatment. Our skin cancer misdiagnosis page gives more information about when medical negligence can occur in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer.