Belfast Telegraph

‘Care in the sun’ paramount to tackling skin cancer – Poots

Stormont Executive press release - Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety

Skin cancer is now the most common form of cancer and accounts for approximately 28 percent of all cancers diagnosed in Northern Ireland.

That was the key message delivered by Health Minister Edwin Poots as he addressed a Skin Cancer Conference in Malone House, Barnett’s Demesne, Belfast.

Speaking at the event, the Minister said: “Over 3,300 people in Northern Ireland develop skin cancer each year, yet four out of five of these cases could be prevented by taking some relatively simple precautions.

“As we approach the summer months, holidays will be foremost in many of our minds. Whether it’s a break at home or abroad, increased time spent out of doors means that we must remember to protect both ourselves and our children from over-exposure to the sun’s rays.”

The aim of the conference, hosted by the Public Health Agency, was to highlight progress made in the first year of the Skin Cancer Prevention Strategy and Action Plan 2011-2021, share examples of good practice in the delivery of ‘care in the sun’ messages, and showcase available care in the sun resources, in particular, the launch of the refreshed ‘Care in the Sun’ website.

The Minister continued: “Substantial progress has been made in the area of skin cancer prevention. However, we will continue to see rising rates of skin cancer for some time, due to the amount of sun exposure people have already had. That is why I would encourage everyone to be aware of changes in their skin and to report any changes to their GP. Early detection can save lives.”

Northern Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride, added: “It is important to highlight the obvious dangers of sun exposure. Our pale skin types, which burn easily, are very vulnerable to the harmful effects of UV radiation. I would urge everyone to be vigilant and take precautions, such as using sunscreen protection.”

Notes to editors:

1. The incidence of skin cancer has been rising in recent decades and it is now the most common form of cancer in Northern Ireland. Factors linked to this trend include exposure of the skin to UV radiation associated with an increase in foreign holidays and increased use of indoor tanning facilities.
2. DHSSPS published its ten-year Skin Cancer Prevention Strategy and Action Plan in July 2011 and a multi-disciplinary implementation group, established by the Public Health Agency, is currently taking forward work on the action plan.
3. The strategy and action plan focuses on the prevention and early detection of skin cancers, and while it has been developed to take account of the population as a whole, it pays particular attention to children and young people, and those who spend significant periods of time outdoors through work or leisure.

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