After one of the strangest years in our lifetimes, we're all excited to finally see the arrival of summer and feel some warm comforting sunshine.
Being New Zealanders, we all know the risks when it comes to sun damage. But it’s worth reminding ourselves that, as well as having the highest incidence of melanoma in the world (with rates four times higher than Canada, the US and the UK1) we still need to be aware of the signs and detect melanoma as early as possible. So grab yourself a cuppa, or a cool drink, and check out Melanoma New Zealand for some insightful expertise.
The ‘ugly duckling’ rule.
Check your skin regularly for changes such as such as size, colour, shape or elevation. Melanoma New Zealand also advises looking out for any moles that look different from others on your body, they call this the 'ugly duckling' rule.
‘The idea behind the ugly duckling rule is you compare your moles with each other. If any mole stands out or looks different to the moles around them, it’s the ugly duckling, and we advise you contact a doctor to get an expert opinion’.
4000 reasons it’s important.
More than 4,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma each year in New Zealand. That’s around 11 New Zealanders each and every day – making it the third most common cancer in New Zealand2.
Reducing the risks
The risk of developing melanoma increases with age, but there are also other factors that affect our own personal risk. These include:
- Family or personal history of skin cancer
- Fair skin
- Red, blonde or fair hair
- Skin type that burns easily
- Skin damage due to sunburn
- Sunbed use
- Many moles and larger moles.
Of course, the most known risk with regards to skin cancer is exposure to the sun. It’s important to protect yourself whenever you're outside from September to April, particularly between 10am and 4pm, or when the ultraviolet (UV) index is 3 or higher. The good news is, the UV index for your area is easier to find than ever, with some great information available online, including:
- Sun protection alert sunsmart.co.nz
- uv2Day free smartphone app niwa.co.nz/node/111461
- Niwa website UVI forecast for specific sites niwa.co.nz/UV-forecasts
For more information about Melanoma New Zealand and how to get involved with awareness or fundraising, visit www.melanoma.org.nz.