Skin Cancer - Prevention And Recognition

A recent BBC News item focused on the increase in skin cancer cases in people over 65 in the UK.  A lack of awareness of the cause of skin cancer coupled with an increase in cheap package holidays to sunnier climes in the 1970s is thought to be to blame. 

Skin cancer is actually extremely preventable.  As we look forward to the sunny months ahead, this article looks at how you can enjoy the summer sun whilst staying safe.

Be ‘sun-smart

Avoid getting burned at all costs.  Sunburn is a sign that your skin has been damaged by too much UV radiation and it’s this that can eventually lead to skin cancer.

Keep out of the sun at the hottest time of the day, between 11am and 3pm.  Wear a hat, shirt and sunglasses.  Always use a high factor sunblock and remember to reapply when you’ve been in the sea or swimming pool.  Children and babies have very delicate skin and as such are particularly vulnerable to sunburn so make extra-sure they are protected.

You don’t have to be stuck inside on a lovely sunny day; choose a shady spot beneath a canopy, under a tree or beside a building.  Alternatively, cover up.  Choose a close-weave cotton fabric for maximum protection, and remember that loose-weave cloth stretches when it gets wet which allows more UV rays to get through.  Wear a hat with a nice wide brim to make sure that your ears and the back of your neck are protected as well as your face.  The best design incorporates a cloth flap at the back to cover your neck and you can get these for children, too.  The skin around your eyes is very delicate and vulnerable to damage from UV rays too so always wear a decent quality wrap-around style pair of sunglasses with polarized lenses.

If you’re on a boat, it’s easy to be fooled into thinking that because there’s a cool breeze you won’t get burned.  The sun is just as strong regardless of how windy it is, and it reflects from the surface of the water too so always cover up or stay in a shady part of the boat.


When you’re choosing sunscreen, pick the highest UV protection factor you can find and go for a reputable brand.  A good product might be more expensive but it will be more effective than something cheap.  Make a point of checking the expiry date on the product packaging too as something that’s out of date will not be fully effective.  Always apply and reapply thoroughly and frequently.  Remember that sunscreen can never be 100% effective, so don’t be tempted to stay out in the sun for too long.

Put plenty of sunscreen on before you go out into the sun so that it can be absorbed thoroughly then apply a second layer to make sure you’ve not missed anywhere.  Put insect creams, makeup and moisturizers on after your sunscreen.

Checking for signs of skin cancer

A common site for skin cancer to develop is on your back and the tops of your shoulders.  Check your partner’s skin in these areas for abnormalities and ask them to check yours.

The key things to look for are:

  • spots or sores that don’t heal within four weeks
  • spots or sores that are painful, itchy, scabbed or crusty or bleeding for more than four weeks
  • ulcers or patches of broken skin that don’t heal within four weeks
  • moles or large blemishes on the skin that change shape or colour, or begin to bleed

If you notice anything unusual and have any concerns, always consult your doctor without delay.  Skin cancer is very treatable if it’s caught early enough.

In conclusion

Skin cancer is a very preventable disease that can be treated successfully if it’s caught early.  Stay safe in the sun and always consult your doctor if you have any concerns.




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Alison Page

About Alison Page

Alison is a small business owner, freelance writer, author and dressage judge. She has degrees in Equine Science and Business Studies. Read her full story at

Alison Page

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