Dermatologists at Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals are concerned that with the unusually good weather experienced so far in 2007, and the summer fast approaching, local people need to take care more than usual about their exposure to the sun’s harmful rays.

“We’re urging local people to take care not to burn. Sunburn can double the risk of skin cancer;” says Consultant Dermatologist Dr Maria Roest. “Those most at risk are people with fair skin, lots of moles or freckles or a family history of skin cancer. Skin cancer kills more men than women but finding it early saves lives. It is important to check your skin and if you notice changes in size, shape or colour of your moles that happen over weeks or months it is important to see your doctor.”

As part of the national Sun Smart campaign they advise people to be:

  • Be SunSmart in the Summer Sun; Spend time in the shade between 11 and 3; The summer sun is most damaging to your skin in the middle of the day.
  • Make sure you never burn; Sunburn can double your risk of skin cancer.
  • Aim to cover up with a t-shirt, hat and sunglasses; When the sun is at its peak sunscreen is not enough.
  • Remember to take extra care with children; Young skin is delicate. Keep babies out of the sun especially around midday.
  • Then use factor 15+ sunscreen; Apply sunscreen generously and reapply often.
  • Also; Report mole changes or unusual skin growths promptly to your doctor.

Around 67,000 new skin cancers are diagnosed in the UK each year. Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals provide cancer treatment for around 90 per cent of the local population in the hospitals’ catchment area with around 10 per cent of patients being referred on to more specialist centres such as St. Luke’s Cancer Centre at the Royal Surrey County Hospital, Guildford.

Dr Sam Vaughan-Jones, also a Consultant Dermatologist at Ashford and St. Peter’s hospitals commented: “The sun’s rays are strongest between 11 and 3 so it is important to think about spending some time in the shade or covering up with a shirt and hat. Always use a good SPF15+ sunscreen. Children probably won’t realise they are burning so their time in the sun should be limited and babies under 2 years should not be exposed to direct sunlight at all. Finally, make sure that you drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.”