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Melanoma Awareness Month A Crucial Reminder For Sun Protection All Year Round

Protect your skin all year round. That’s the message from Taranaki skin cancer experts as we head into Winter.

Dr Nelia Lourens, Skin Clinic Taranaki surgeon says, “People are often a bit more relaxed about skin protection over the colder months. While it may not feel as hot, ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause just as much skin damage throughout this time, increasing the risk of skin cancer.”

May is Melanoma Awareness Month, and with New Zealand (NZ) having the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, we can’t be complacent.

More than 80,000 people are diagnosed with skin cancer in NZ each year, with more than 6000 of those being melanoma. It’s estimated that skin cancers account for 80% of all new cancer diagnoses in NZ each year.

“Those most at risk during the cooler months are people who spend a lot of time outside like farmers and tradies, and those spending time around or on reflective surfaces like snow, ice, concrete, sand, and bodies of water.

“People with health conditions such as an autoimmune disease, those taking medicines (such as antibiotics) that increase sensitivity to the sun, and those with a family history of skin cancer are also at a higher risk,” says Dr Lourens.

While it is nearing the end of Melanoma Awareness Month, Dr Lourens says people should feel positive about the fact that skin cancer is almost entirely preventable, as there is plenty people can do to protect themselves all year round.

All the usual Sunsmart rules still apply; when you’re outside slip into protective clothing, slop on sunscreen (at least SPF30), slap on a hat, wrap on some sunglasses, and where possible stay in the shade.

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Early detection of skin cancer and sun damage is also extremely important.

“If melanoma is treated early enough it is almost always curable. You have the best chance of catching skin cancers early with regular skin checks. This is particularly important for those with a family history of skin cancer, who should be having skin checks every year.

“At Skin Clinic Taranaki we offer several skin cancer prevention and detection services including single or multi-spot/lesion checks, full body skin checks and Total Body Imaging. We also offer NAEVUS Mole Mapping, a head-to-toe skin check where detailed images of all your significant moles and lesions are taken,” says Dr Lourens.

Any spots of concern are assessed by one of our doctors, and all images are kept on file for reference at future appointments.

“NAEVUS Mole Mapping and total body imaging is especially useful for long-term monitoring, given that the first sign of skin cancer is often a change in the shape, size, or colour of an existing spot, or the appearance of a new spot.

“There’s no better time than now to step up your skin cancer prevention measures, and if you haven’t been getting regular skin checks, it’s never too late in life to start. We’re here to help,”Dr Lourens adds.

To find out more about how Skin Clinic Taranaki can support you with prevention, diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer and sun damage, visit skinclinictaranaki.co.nz

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