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Enjoy the sun – but do it safely

PUBLISHED: 14:46 05 June 2018 | UPDATED: 14:46 05 June 2018

Dr Deepak Rallan from the Diamond SkinSafe Clinic carries out a mole check on a patient using a dermatoscope. Picture: Contributed

Dr Deepak Rallan from the Diamond SkinSafe Clinic carries out a mole check on a patient using a dermatoscope. Picture: Contributed

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June is the official start of summer, and many of us will already have spent time outside enjoying the recent warm weather. So we spoke to dermatologist Dr Deepak Rallan about why it’s so important to use sunscreen to protect our skin from the effects of the sun.

Many people think that getting sunburned now may lead to skin cancer, but the real risk accumulates over at least a couple of decades. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoMany people think that getting sunburned now may lead to skin cancer, but the real risk accumulates over at least a couple of decades. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

GPs and dermatologists across the UK see a rise in skin cancer consultations in the summer and the disease is the most common form of cancer in the UK. One in five people will contract the disease at some point and figures are set to rise due to the increased use of sun beds and travel to sunny destinations. Surprisingly, no NHS screening is available.

Detecting a skin cancer and removing it early means it has little or no chance of coming back. The process of consulting your doctor to check your skin or suspect mole/s, who will either reassure or refer you to a hospital specialist, can take up to six weeks for definitive treatment.

Norfolk-based private dermatologist, Dr Deepak Rallan, who runs Diamond Skin Care’s SkinSafe Clinic, is one of the UK’s foremost experts on detecting the disease – and he has made it his mission to reduce the rates of late skin cancer diagnosis in Norfolk and Suffolk.

He says: “In our own practice, a significant number of patients call for an urgent mole check if they have recent excess sun exposure or sun burn, and we can see usually see them within three days.

“Many people think that getting sunburned now may lead to skin cancer, but the real risk accumulates over at least a couple of decades. Sun screens and protection did not really exist 30-40 years ago, and sun damage in childhood is a major risk factor for skin cancer in later life.”

He adds: “The good news is if skin cancer is caught early, it is curable, but if it is left beyond a certain stage, no cure exists. The problem is, not everyone knows how to detect the signs of skin cancer at an early stage. Many people rely on family and friends to monitor and detect their skin growths and moles, using just the naked eye. Although some irregularities may be seen, it is difficult to spot these abnormalities early.”

We asked Dr Rallan to answer some of the most common questions his patients ask:

What are the signs of skin cancer and what should I look out for?

The best way to tackle this (with minimal worry) is to focus on three very important tips which I always tell my patients about if they are concerned about a mole or skin growth.

Tip 1: If your partner or friend notices that one of your moles has changed. It’s true that all moles normally change, but they do so over a long period of time, for example over a year, two years or more.

Tip 2: If the change has happened over three to four months, that is very quick for a mole and may be a sign that something is wrong.

Tip 3: Where to check on your skin: look out for irregular shaped, black moles. Melanoma (the most dangerous form of the disease) is commonly found in the upper back of men, followed by chest and arms. For women, it is commonly found in the lower legs, chest and face.

These are very strong reasons to get moles checked. It doesn’t necessarily mean skin cancer has developed, but it’s best to get it checked for peace of mind.

We have regularly seen patients who were referred or concerned about a particular mole, but the skin cancer was incidentally found in a completely different mole while checking the rest of the skin.

Do I have cancerous moles?

At the SkinSafe Clinic, we believe in “Early Detection = Life Protection”, so it is important not to wait for visibly abnormal signs to show before getting your moles checked. The most popular system for telling if a mole is cancerous is the ‘ABCDE’ method, but this is a late detection system and should only be used as a guide.

The earliest cancerous changes are easily missed with the naked eye. Special training is needed to use a dermatoscope which uses polarised light to catch what the eye misses. A skin cancer screening takes around 30 minutes, which includes a review of the patient’s medical history and a head-to-toe skin examination. We encourage patients to mention any moles or growths they are worried about, so the dermatologist can decide on any monitoring needed and, most of all, put their minds at ease.

READER OFFER

A full body check costs £220, but – for a limited time only – you can receive 15pc off with this voucher code – EDP0518. Book online at www.beskinsafe.co.uk or call 01603 819125. Bookings must be made by June 30, 2018.

Mole removal costs £400-£500 for up to three moles.

Dr Deepak Rallan, is one of the UK’s foremost dermoscopists and was awarded the title of International Academic Expert in Dermoscopy in 2015. The SkinSafe clinic’s philosophy is “Early Detection, Life Protection”.

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