Skin Cancer warning for Sandwell and West Birmingham residents as cases increase

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Sandwell and West Birmingham residents are being warned of the risks of skin cancer as temperatures rise this month. The plea comes from NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) during Skin Cancer Awareness Month, which takes place this May.

Melanoma skin cancer is one of the most common forms of the disease in the UK, with around 15,906 new cases each year and the rate projected to rise by approximately seven per cent by 2035.

Between 2011 and 2015 in Sandwell and West Birmingham there was an average of 10 new Melanoma cancer diagnoses for every 100,000 people per year. An average of 3 people in every 100,000 in Sandwell and West Birmingham died from Melanoma cancer each year during this period.

One of the main risk factors associated with skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is naturally emitted from the sun. UV rays penetrate deeply into our cells and can cause gene damage, which in turn can trigger the development of cancer. With the popularity of tanned skin increasing, there has been widespread use of artificial sources of UV radiation such as sunbeds, lamps and booths.

Dr Nick Harding, Chair of NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“It is important that local people understand the signs and symptoms of skin cancer. Regularly checking the skin for signs of skin cancer can help lead to an early diagnosis and increase the chances of successful treatment.

“Patients should see their GP if there is any skin abnormality, such as a lump, ulcer, lesion or skin discolouration that hasn't healed after four weeks. While it's unlikely to be skin cancer, it's best to be sure.

“Everyone can protect themselves from sunburn by using high-factor sunscreen, dressing sensibly in the sun, and limiting the amount of time spent in the sun during the hottest part of the day. Sunbeds and sunlamps should also be avoided.”

More information about Skin Cancer Awareness Month, along with fact sheets on detection and prevention can be found at www.skincancer.org