Here comes the sun (at last), but beware of melanoma

Taking advantage of the summer sun at Mooney's Bay, Ottawa, 2015. The Canadian Cancer Society asks Canadians to be aware of sun exposure and risk of melanoma. Over 1000 Canadians died from skin cancer last year Photo: Justin Tang- CP

Here comes the sun (at last), but beware of melanoma

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It’s a type of cancer that is afflicting more and more people.

Estimates are that in 2017, some 7000 Canadians had melanoma and over 1000 died from it.

World Melanoma Day is marked annually on the second Monday in May, (May 14th this year), but for many it passed without notice. That’s a bit worrisome for medical professionals because the cancer is preventable.

Susan Flynn, is Senior Manager for Cancer Prevention at the Canadian Cancer Society.

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Susan Flynn, senior manager Canadian Cancer Society Photo: supplied

One of the things Flynn is concerned about is the use of tanning beds. She says the still common belief of getting a base-tan will help protect you. She says that is still causing skin damage.

She points out that there is evidence that use of indoor tanning equipment before age 35 can lead to an over 50% increase in risk of melanoma.

In Canada, use of commercial tanning salons is prohibited for those 18 years and younger but Flynn says figures show as many as 27 per cent of young women use indoor tanning equipment.

On the left side from top to bottom: melanomas showing (A) Asymmetry, (B) a border that is uneven, ragged, or notched, (C) colouring of different shades of brown, black, or tan and (D) diameter that had changed in size. The normal moles on the right side do not have abnormal characteristics (no asymmetry, even border, even colour, no change in diametry. Photo: wikicommons

While almost everyone likes to get out in the sun after a period of cool weather, she says the risks of overexposure whether through sudden sunburns, or long term exposure should always be considered.

To reduce risks, SPF 30 sunscreen is recommended*, as well as spending the hottest part of the day (when UV is most intense, is better spent in shade.

*(Hawaii has banned sunscreen lotions containing oxybenzone and octinoxate as they have been found to be killing ocean reefs)

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