Enjoy the Sun but Watch for Signs of Melanoma

9th June 2010

Well I’m sure we all thought it would never come, but finally the summer months are upon us and already we’ve had some glorious sunny weather.

Given that we Brits spend so much time moaning about how cold and horrible the weather usually is, it’s hardly surprising that we all tend to go a bit crazy in the summer and can’t wait to strip off and soak up some rays.

However, what does amaze me is the amount of people here in the UK who still seem oblivious to how harmful the sun can be to exposed skin, especially very pale-skinned people who are the ones most at risk from sunburn-induced malignant melanoma.

In brief, melanoma is a skin cancer which can be triggered by prolonged exposure to bright sunshine. If not spotted or treated this type of cancer, if malignant, can quickly spread down through the skin tissue and spread around the body – with fatal consequences.

I personally trained as a mole analysis nurse and therefore I am trained to look for the danger signs, and once while on holiday I saw a man shirtless in the sun who had what I considered to be a very odd-looking mole on his back.

Concerned that he may be unaware of the mole I approached him and asked if he was knew that he had the mole. I explained my knowledge and told him that I thought he should get it looked at by a specialist.

He hadn’t been aware of it, and said he would get it checked out when he got home. He took my email address and promised to let me know the outcome, and a couple of weeks later got in touch to say the mole had been confirmed as cancerous and he’d had it immediately removed, which I was very relieved to hear.

As with anything though, prevention is always better than cure, so the thing to do is cover up your skin, sit in plenty of shade (especially during periods of the day when the sunshine is particularly strong) or, at the very least, slap on plenty of sun block, especially if you have paler skin.

The signs of melanoma are a new blotch, or mole, on your skin which is irregular in shape, or a change in your moles. If you do spot something like this you must get it seen by a doctor immediately, because the quicker you can get something treated the better and it could save your life.

Enjoy the sun!

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