Sunshine can elevate the mood, add a positive slant to a mediocre day and bring a spring in our step, however as we all know exposure to UV rays can also increase risk of skin cancer. As a massage therapist I try to take care with clients, informing them if I spot a concerning mole or skin mark during treatments and suggest that they have it checked by their GP.
Too often, people don’t realise that a mole or a mark is of concern, and sometimes they just don’t notice, because it is tucked away on a part of their body that they never see. The reality is that it is pretty hard to examine your own back (a common area along with legs to get melanoma). Even for those in a relationship, it's unlikely a partner will spend much time examining moles on your back unless you ask them to take notice. It’s almost impossible for those who live alone or without a partner. However, discussing with your massage therapist that you would like them to flag any moles of concern and also taking regular photos of areas you can’t see yourself is a good way to check yourself.
Next week is Sun Awareness Week, part of a national campaign run by The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD), educating people about skin cancer. This campaign is overseen by the BAD's Skin Cancer Prevention Committee. It is also supported locally by the Brighton & Hove City Council. Details can be found here.
The campaign combines prevention and detection advice about skin cancer:
It encourages people to regularly self-examine for skin cancer
It teaches people about the dangers of sunburn and excessive tanning
It discourages people from using sunbeds, in light of the associated risks of skin cancer.
I see a lot of different bodies and skin types as a massage therapist, so spotting unusual or concerning marks is easier for me than for most individuals, and it’s often when I treat regular clients that I can help by informing them of any changes to moles or their skin. This is often the most important thing to look out for when assessing for melanoma - any changes to a mole, or a mole that looks very different to the rest of your body. Moles can change without any harmful effects, but any changes should be noticed as they can be a sign of melanoma and should be examined by your GP to be on the safe side.
The NHS website also gives great pictures and advice on melanoma-
But as always with your body… if in doubt get it checked out.