Alan Storey, who battled and beat skin cancer in 2003, says the experience has changed the way he thinks about going out in the sun.
A North Tyneside man, who was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, says he developed the cancer after prolonged sun exposure in this country, rather than abroad.
Alan Storey, from North Tyneside, was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 2003. Despite making a full recovery, he says it was a frightening experience.
Cancer Research UK says too much UV radiation from the sun or sunbeds can damage the DNA in skin cells. If the DNA builds up enough damage over time, it can cause cells to start growing out of control, leading to skin cancer.
There are two main types of UV rays. Both types can cause skin cancer - UVB and UVA.
Sunburn is a clear sign that the DNA in your skin cells has been damaged by too much UV radiation. Sunburn doesn’t have to be raw, peeling or blistering. If your skin has gone red in the sun, it’s burnt.
The above video, by Cancer Research UK, explains what happens to skin when it becomes sunburnt.
Vitamin D builds and maintains strong bones and our body produces it when our skin is exposed to UV rays from the sun.
Sunlight is the main source of vitamin D, but it is also the main cause of skin cancer. The amount needed is different for everyone but most can get enough vitamin D from exposure to sun running day-to-day errands.
You shouldn’t have to redden or burn your skin to make enough vitamin D.
Sunbeds give out UV rays which damage skin and can make it look wrinkled, older or leathery, according to Cancer Research UK.
The UV rays from sunbeds can also damage the DNA in skin cells, and over time this damage can build up to cause skin cancer. Sunbeds can sometimes be marketed as a ‘controlled way’ of getting a ‘safer tan’.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer agrees there is sufficient evidence to show using sunbeds causes malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.
Cancer Research UK is warning people to be careful with sunbeds and sunny weather.
Who is the most at risk of skin cancer?
- Fair skin
- Moles or freckles
- Red or fair hair
- Light coloured eyes
- Family history of skin cancer
- History of sunburn
If you have naturally brown or black skin you are much less likely to develop skin cancer. This is because people with naturally brown or black skin have more melanin pigment in their cells. This helps protect the skin from damaging UV rays.
Lisa Millett, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North East, said it is important for people in the region to avoid sunburn as figures show the number of people being diagnosed with skin cancer is increasing.
– Lisa Millett, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North East
“We know overexposure to UV rays from the sun or sunbeds is the main cause of skin cancer. This means, in many cases, the disease can be prevented so it’s essential to get into good sun safety habits, whether at home or abroad.
“One of the best ways people can reduce their risk of malignant melanoma is to avoid getting sunburn. We know that those with the highest risk of the disease include people with pale skin, lots of moles or freckles, a history of sunburn or a family history of the disease.
“Sadly more and more people in the North East are being diagnosed with malignant melanoma each year."
Malignant melanoma is now the fifth most common cancer in the UK and more than 2,000 people die from it each year. The number of people being diagnosed in the North East region as trebled.
Rates have been increasing since the 1970s and they are now five times higher than they were 40 years ago nationally.
The rise is partly down to package holidays to Europe dating from the late 60s and the increasing popularity of being tanned. The boom in sunbed use has also fueled the increase in skin cancer and better detection methods may also have contributed.