NOW is a great time to spot check family and friends, especially those you might not have seen for awhile, Ballarat oncologist Vishal Boolell says.
Dr Boolell was concerned people were becoming too complacent with the slip, slop, slap message – and later additions to seek shade and slide on sunscreen. He sees the worst effects of sun damage, when it turns to cancer, and said so much was preventable.
So, Dr Boolell is encouraging others to check on each other as they catch up amid warm weather this summer.
“This time of year is when a lot of family gather, who might notice spots you did not notice yourself, especially on the back or shoulder,” Dr Bolell said. “It’s most important if they see something to get it checked urgently. The earlier we find things, generally the better the outcomes.”
Dr Bolell said this was also a good chance to remind each other on good sunsmart habits, in particular using at least 30-plus sunscreen, reapplying and wearing protective clothing.
He said new technology, such as the SunSmart app, were a great way to check ultra-violent rays – this was the light you could not see, and rays that could still cause great damage on overcast or cool days.
“We all potentially downplay the long-term effects, skin cancer, for sun damage which is, for the most part, preventable,” Dr Bolell said. “We hear it quite often, people saying they wish they had done more, but unfortunately correction on sun damage is quite difficult.”
This comes as Ballarat endurance runner and tradesman Nathan Hartigan has made a public plea for everyone to be smarter in the sun and consistent with skin checks after his own scare with melanoma.
Hartigan was diagnosed last year with an aggressive melanoma, which had spread to a lymph node, from a small spot on his leg.
Melanoma is the third most common cancer in Australia: 2993 Victorians were diagnosed with melanoma last year and 270 lost their lives.
Sunburn causes 95 per cent of melanomas, the most deadly form of skin cancer.
Cancer Council Australia found “abysmally low’ numbers of Victorians cover up sufficiently when out and about in public places. The observational study, released this month, showed one in three people wear hats in public places.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Cancer Council finds most skin cancer can be prevented with good sun protection. The study highlights we are over-relying on sunscreen and best protection is a combination of proactive approaches.
Check local sun protection times on the free SunSmart or Bureau of Meteorology apps. During these times each day:
• Slip on clothing that covers as much skin as possible
• Slop on SPF30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen
• Slap on a broad-brimmed hat that shades your face, neck and ears
• Seek shade
• Slide on sunglasses
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