A national public health campaign will run in all community pharmacies in Wales from Thursday 1 May to Saturday 31 May 2013 to raise awareness about the causes of skin cancer, how to recognise the symptoms, and what steps people can take to reduce their risk.
During May, community pharmacies across Wales will engage with people who are at greater risk of getting skin cancer to advise them on the steps they can take to reduce their risk, like seeking shade in the middle of the day, and keeping a high SPF sunscreen topped up.
Skin cancer is now one of the most common types of cancer in people between the ages of 15 to 34. Early diagnosis has a big impact on skin cancer survival rates, but many people - particularly older people and men - delay seeking advice if they are worried.
Andrew Evans, Principal Pharmacist for Public Health Wales, said: “In 2011 over 700 people in Wales were diagnosed with malignant melanoma, and every year around 100 people will die from the condition. There is so much we can do to save lives by getting the message across that detecting cancer early has a huge impact on people’s chances of survival.
“Pharmacies are a great place to get this message across, because we can meet face-to-face with people who are visiting their pharmacist to get ready for the summer sun – especially people who are displaying high-risk behaviour by wearing low factor sunscreen or staying out in the midday sun.
“By working with Community Pharmacy Wales and Tenovus on this campaign, Public Health Wales can help people avoid skin cancer, and raise awareness of the symptoms to aid early detection.”
Chris James, Chair of Community Pharmacy Wales and a Director of Walter Lloyd Pharmacy in Carmarthen said “Community pharmacies are well placed to share these important messages about the risks of skin cancer from the summer sun as so many customers turn to their local pharmacy for sunscreen products. Working with Public Health Wales and Tenovus will enable the whole Welsh community pharmacy network to focus the attention of the public on how best to protect themselves from this killer disease”
The main sun safety messages being promoted during this campaign are that people should:
• Seek shade and cover-up between 11am and 3pm
• Wear a sunscreen with a high Sun Protection Factor – at least SPF15, but preferably higher
• Apply sunscreen about 30 minutes before going out
• Reapply sunscreen every two hours
During the campaign, members of the public visiting pharmacies will be invited to take a quiz to assess their usual behaviour in the sun as well as their awareness of how to reduce their risk of skin cancer.
Tenovus, Wales' leading cancer charity, has also developed a mole checker which will be on display in pharmacies to enable people to reassure themselves that a blemish on their skin is not malignant, or alert them to something that may need to be looked into further.
The campaign is organised by the seven health boards, Public Health Wales and Community Pharmacy Wales and is actively supported by Tenovus.