●● WITH Dr Paul Bowen, a GP with McIlvride Medical Practice, Poynton, and executive chair of NHS Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). A RECENT survey found that UK tanning salons have seen an 80 per cent increase in business due to men using sunbeds in an attempt to achieve the ‘Joey Essex look’, sparking fears that we could see an increase in male skin cancer.
There is no doubt that skin cancer is on the rise in eastern Cheshire - in fact the number of people contracting the condition has more than doubled in the past five years.
In 2010 74 men were diagnosed with skin cancer in eastern Cheshire, which increased to 149 cases in 2014 and reached 57 so far this year.
Although these numbers may seem small, there is no room for complacency, as skin cancer is one of our fastest increasing cancer types, across all age groups
Skin cancer is more common among the over-50s and is actually more prevalent in older men than older women in eastern Cheshire.
Skin cancers develop due to skin damage from ultraviolet light both from sunshine in the UK and especially abroad when we take those muchneeded weeks away in the summer.
It’s important to remember that sunburn is skin damage.
Damage is cumulative through life and it’s important to protect children.
The term ‘skin cancer’ refers to a three main groups of cancers – the most serious of which is melanoma.
Melanoma can develop as a mole on the skin which grows and develops irregular or asymmetric shape, colour or inflammation.
Non-melanoma skin cancers can develop as a patch, lump or ulcer in the skin, which can take weeks or even years, and can be more or less serious.
These can be a variety of colours, from red to white, and sometimes scaly.
Many harmless skin growths can also develop in the same way.
See your GP if you have any skin abnormality that hasn’t healed after four weeks.
Although it is unlikely to be skin cancer, it is best to be sure.
Preventative steps can be taken against skin cancer, including the avoidance of sunbeds and sunlamps.
Being sun aware is also very important, so apply a high factor sun cream regularly, dress sensibly during hot weather – shirt and hat - and limit the time you spend in the sun during the hottest part of the day.
Also ensure that you regularly check moles and look for new ones developing.
Moles develop less often as you get older and are unusual after the age of 40.
For more information, on skin cancer, visit nhs. uk/Conditions/Cancer-ofthe-skin/Pages/ Prevention.aspx.
●● Dr Paul Bowen