The IRISH TIMES
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
MEMBERS OF the public have been urged to cover up when in the sun after new figures reveal a 36 per cent rise in the number of cases of skin cancer between 1997 and 2007.
Data from the National Cancer Registry of Ireland (NCRI) also shows a 75 per cent increase in females under 50 years presenting with malignant melanoma.
Launching its annual SunSmart campaign yesterday, the Irish Cancer Society called on people to do more to protect themselves during the summer months and to steer clear of sunbeds.
The society’s health promotion manager, Norma Cronin, said that despite the sharp rise in the number of confirmed cases of skin cancer in Ireland, people were still not treating the issue seriously. "People may think that skin cancer happens in other countries, not in Ireland due to our climate. But 80-85 per cent of ultra-violet [UV] rays pass through clouds and Ireland has the third-highest rate of malignant melanoma in the EU," she said.
"A suntan is sun damage. Burning increases the risk of skin cancer later on in life so it’s best to take preventative measures," she added.
According to the NCRI statistics, there were 7,743 new cases of skin cancer diagnosed in 2007, up from 5,687 cases 10 years earlier.
Of the cases confirmed in 2007, some 7,076 were for non-melanoma cancer, the most common type of skin cancer. In addition, 667 new cases of malignant melanoma cancer were diagnosed.
The data shows there has been an 84 per cent increase in the number of cases of malignant melanoma skin cancer in males and a 48 per cent increase in women over the decade.
Ms Cronin said there was evidence that sunbed usage was partly to blame for an increase in the number of skin cancer cases worldwide.
A survey by the Irish Cancer Society published last year found that 6 per cent of under-15 year olds had used sunbeds.
New legislation banning the use of sunbeds by those under the age of 18 years is expected to be introduced in Ireland shortly.
"We would not recommend the use of sunbeds at all by anyone regardless of their age because we know that they give UV rays which can cause skin cancer.
"It is also a totally unregulated industry with no health warnings and no mandatory training of staff," said Ms Cronin.
The SunSmart campaign is intended to raise awareness about the increasing number of skin cancer cases in Ireland and the importance of prevention and early detection.
The society recommends that people should avoid going out in the sun between the hours of 11am and 3pm, to regularly re-apply sunscreen protection and to wear T-shirts, long shorts, hats and wraparound sunglasses when outside .
It also advises that babies under six months of age should be kept out of the sun as much as possible and urged people to regularly check for changes to their skin and to contact a general practitioner if they notice a mole has changed shape, size or colour.