A skin cancer surveillance day is being held at Kettering General Hospital on Saturday, September 26, at the Jubilee Wing (Skin Care Centre) from 10am-2pm.
Anyone who has concerns about particular moles or skin lesions is invited to attend the free event and speak to specialist doctors and nurses on the day (who have volunteered their services free of charge).
The aim of the event is to support people with concerns, identify any problem areas and organise treatment, and educate people about safe behaviour in the sun.
It has been organised by one of Kettering General Hospital’s consultant dermatologists, Dr Olivia Stevenson, who is also the Trust’s skin cancer lead.
Dr Stevenson said: “Unfortunately many people are still not aware of the damage the sun can cause and the importance of protecting your skin.
“Having a deep sun tan is still a bit of a fashion statement but unfortunately it is also a sign of damage to the skin.
“Excessive sun exposure can lead to freckling, to the skin looking older and more wrinkled, and possibly to skin cancer.
“There are several forms of skin cancer of which mole cancer (melanoma) is the most publicised and dangerous however any lesion which is changing rapidly on the skin or behaving differently from other moles, for example changing colour or growing faster, may be a cause for concern.
“Sometimes people, particularly men, can ignore these sorts of changes when they really should have them checked out by their GP straight away as if caught early many skin cancers can be completely cured.”
Mrs Caroline Worthington, 43, of Rothwell, attended last year’s event because she had a mole which had changed colour on her left leg.
Mrs Worthington – who is medicines management technician at Kettering General Hospital – said: “I have had a mole on my leg ever since I was born but in about June 2008 I noticed it was starting to change colour.
“I saw the skin surveillance event advertised at work and in the ET and decided I would attend on the day just to put my mind at rest.
“I met Dr Stevenson on the surveillance day and she was concerned about the mole - and said I would need to have it removed and have a biopsy taken.
“It was removed within two weeks and about a month later I learned that the mole had been a malignant melanoma.
“Fortunately I had caught it in time and it was removed completely otherwise treatment could have been much more prolonged.
“I am very glad I took the time to get some medical advice on the change to my mole – it could have saved my life.”
Dr Stevenson said she personally sees some 20-30 new skin cancers each month at the hospital.
She said: “If you have concerns about moles or skin irregularities you should normally visit your GP who can refer you to a specialist if necessary. However on September 26 we are holding this special open-access clinic and awareness day which will allow people to just drop-in to Jubilee Wing and have themselves checked out.”
The number of cases of the most dangerous skin cancer, malignant melanoma, have risen by 43 per cent in the last decade, according to figures released by Cancer Research.
Since the mid-1980s rates have doubled in women and tripled in men but a recent survey showed that even though most sunbathers knew the risks they still intended to get burnt on holiday.
The clinic and awareness day will run from 10-2pm on a first come first served basis and patients will be able to take home information and advice as necessary. People are also encouraged to attend for simple safe sun and skin cancer prevention advice from the Trust’s specialist nurses.
At last year’s event the department saw 330 people – several of whom were promptly treated for different types of skin cancer.
The WRVS is running its outpatients café on the Saturday especially to provide people who attend the clinic with refreshments. Parking for the event will cost £2.30 as a maximum – attendees need to give car park attendants proof of attending the event (available at the event).