Tuesday, 07 June 2016 10:02

The importance of getting sun protection

Sun protection all year round is recommended Sun protection all year round is recommended

During a recent island-wide skin cancer awareness campaign, Limassolians were advised to protect themselves from the sun.

This year, the Cyprus Society of Dermatology and Venereology (CSDV) organised a series of skin cancer awareness events along with sponsor Eau Thermale Avene Cyprus. Presentations took place in Nicosia and Limassol and it is estimated that over 1,000 people received information about skin cancer.

Like every year, free screenings for melanoma were offered by dermatologists on International Melanoma Day in May.

“People were interested in finding out more about melanoma and how to protect themselves. The audience enjoyed the bracelets they got as a gift which measure sun exposure and remind them to wear their sunscreen,” said Louiza Palloura, of Cubix Minds, who was in charge of the event promotion.

“They also enjoyed walking on the infographics corridor and learning about the behaviour of people regarding the sun in Europe,” she added.

The large infographics floor mat also included a reminder that high levels of harmful UV rays exist everywhere – not just on the beach – even on cloudy days.
The damage caused by UV rays is permanent and may not be visible; it accumulates and can lead to skin cancer.

Being sunburnt just five times, for example, doubles your risk of melanoma – the most serious form of skin cancer which develops from the pigment-containing cells.

Sharing viable information

At the events, information by Euromelanoma, a network of European dermatologists, active in 33 countries, was shared. They promote and share information on skin cancer prevention through their website www.euromelanoma.org and Europe-wide events and free screenings.
Their annual campaign highlights the need for a change in sun protection behaviour and is supported by a major 2014/15 study into the sun protection habits of more than 13,500 Europeans.

The study revealed that, despite 91% of people recognising that sun exposure can cause health problems, 40% of Europeans do not protect themselves from the sun outside of their holidays and only 14% protect themselves from the sun all year round.

Other findings from the study revealed that, when exposed to the sun, 89% of European parents ‘always’ or ‘often’ put sunscreen on their children aged under 12, but only 62% apply sunscreen to themselves.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the world, with over 3.5 million diagnosed every year, of which 100,000 cases are melanoma in Europe. Over 22,000 Europeans die every year from melanoma. In Cyprus, there are about 20 new cases of melanoma, the youngest patient was 18 (last year) and the oldest 90 (this year). Skin cancer is also one of the most treatable forms of cancer which can often be treated successfully if caught early.
“Our message is very clear: check your skin regularly and get advice quickly if you find anything suspicious,” says Professor del Marmol, Chair of Euromelanoma.

‘Skin cancer’ refers to several different forms of the condition, melanoma being the most dangerous form. Cancerous lesions are likely to appear in places exposed to the sun more often such as the face, neck, back and limbs. It is most common in people over the age of 50, but anybody can be affected.

Protection and prevention

Wearing protective clothes and sunglasses, avoiding direct sunlight between 11am and 3pm during summer, seeking shade and regularly applying sunscreen are the main recommended means of UV protection.

Special care should be taken to protect children as overexposure to the sun during childhood increases the lifelong risk of skin cancer.

It is recommended to supplement annual check-ups by a dermatologist by checking one’s skin once a month applying the ABCDE rule which says to check for spots that are Asymmetric, have indistinct or uneven Borders, change Colour, are larger than 6 mm in Diameter or have evolved in size, shape or behaviour over time.

The website www.euromelanoma.org features a skin self-examination guide.

Article as published in The Cyprus Weekly of June 3, 2016 

Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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