Be sun safe this summer

shutterstock_149052221You wouldn’t describe Grant Evans as your typical sun worshipper. He doesn’t spend hours lying on the beach and has never used a sunbed.

But the 42-year-old found himself at Royal Surrey County Hospital after being diagnosed with malignant melanoma, a type of skin cancer, thought to be caused by increased exposure to UV light from the sun.

In March 2014 the self-employed closed protection driver from New Haw, Surrey, noticed a mole on the inside of his right knee had changed.

Mr Evans had it removed and was referred to the Royal Surrey where a biopsy indicated that it was a malignant melanoma.

“I had always been aware that I had a skin type that made me susceptible to melanoma and therefore I had always checked myself regularly,” said Mr Evans.

“I was fortunate that I caught it early and only required surgery to excavate more tissue and have a lymph node biopsy in my groin to check that the cancer had not spread.

“The lasting damage has been how it has affected me mentally. I had always treated my body well. I don’t smoke or drink, I eat well and exercise daily, yet my body had let me down. I now hate the sun and will always try to find shade where possible.”Grant evans

Mr Evans believes his cancer stems from his childhood, when he spent a lot of time in the sun and less was known about its potential dangers.

He has recently returned to the hospital to have a mole on his arm removed and is awaiting the results of that biopsy.

He said the staff at the hospital have been ‘amazing’ and have made the process ‘as good as it possibly could be.’

“I was one of those people who thought this kind of thing would never happen to them,” said Mr Evans.

“Visiting the nuclear medicine department to have the markers drawn on my skin for my lymph node biopsy was a huge reality check.

“You’ve never been scared until you’re sitting in a hospital waiting room to see a consultant who will tell you if your cancer has spread.

“My advice would be to check yourself regularly and avoid getting sunburned at all costs.”

As the mercury soars Royal Surrey County Hospital is encouraging people to be sun aware and take sensible precautions.

There are risks associated with getting sunburnt at any age, but for children there is a heightened danger of developing skin cancer in later life as the amount UV exposure accumulates,” says Mr Farrokh Pakzad, Consultant Melanoma Surgeon.

“We cannot feel the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays damaging our skin and some people wrongly think you have to be on holiday for this to happen, but it is possible to burn on a dull and cloudy day walking to the shops in the UK. The sun’s UV rays are able to penetrate deep into the skin and can damage our skin cells.

“While some sun exposure is good for general well being, chronic over exposure to UV rays can lead to premature aging of the skin, permanent damage, and in the worst case skin cancer such as melanoma.

“It is important to remember that not one single agent protects us completely from the sun.”

We therefore recommend:

  • Spend time in the shade from 11am to 3pm from March to October
  • Cover up with suitable clothing (ideally UV protective) including hats and sunglasses
  • Use “high protection” sunscreen of at least SPF30, which also has UVA protection. Ensure you apply it generously and regularly
  • Make sure you never burn
  • Keep babies and young children out of direct sunlight

If you notice a mole that is changing, tell your doctor. You can be referred in to see a dermatologist or the specialist skin cancer team for an assessment.

For more information on skin cancer and how to protect yourself, visit : www.bad.org.uk/for-the-public/skin-cancer

©2017 Royal Surrey County Hospital

Log in with your credentials

or    

Forgot your details?