Public Health officials in Liverpool are highlighting the risks of skin cancer on World Melanoma Day (Monday 8 May).

Over the last 25 years, rates of malignant melanoma in Britain have risen faster than any other common cancer and it is now the second most common type among people aged 15-34.

The number of cases in Liverpool have more than doubled since 2001 – up from 47 to 99 – and the latest figures from 2014 show there were 14 deaths in the city.

Now Public Health Liverpool has teamed up with Melanoma UK to remind people of the dangers of spending too long in the sun, encourage people to cover up and highlight the dangers of using sunbeds.

Dr Sandra Davies, Director of Public Health in Liverpool, said: “We’re all well aware of the importance of putting on sun cream when we go on holiday or to the beach, but studies show that people don’t protect themselves when they are out and about at home or work when the sun is out.

“Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a healthy tan and you are not protected if you already have a tan. If your skin goes red it is a sign the cells have been damaged by too much UV radiation but the consequences may not appear until years afterwards.”

Gill Nuttall, Chief Executive Officer of Melanoma UK, said: “We are delighted to partner with Liverpool City Council during May to heighten awareness, educate the public and show people how to examine their bodies.

“Melanoma UK was launched in 2007 and has grown considerably but sadly with the growing number of cases year on year, we realise we need to do much more to tackle this.”

Everyone involved with Melanoma UK has been affected in some way by skin cancer.  Diane Cannon, Corporate Partnership Director, who is spearheading the awareness campaign in Liverpool, lost her young niece Claire Culbert to melanoma at the young age of 38, leaving behind two children. In addition, Diane and three of her siblings have had numerous skin cancer lesions removed.

Almost nine out of ten skin cancers can be prevented by:

  • Avoiding over exposure to the sun
  • Avoiding burning of the skin (red to blistering)
  • Avoiding sun bed use
  • Covering up using clothes, hats and sunglasses
  • Seeking shade at the hottest parts of the day (11am-3pm)
  • Using sunscreen – SPF 30+ for both adults and children

Everyone that uses sunbeds is putting themselves at greater risk of skin cancer. Some people are more likely than others to develop skin cancer. You should never use a sunbed if you:

  • Are under 18
  • Have fair or freckly skin
  • Burn easily
  • Have lots of moles
  • Have had skin cancer in the past
  • Have a family history of skin cancer

People who find a new mole or notice any changes to the size, shape or colour of an existing mole or patch of skin should get it checked by their GP straight away.

Last year, Cancer Research UK and Liverpool City Council joined forces and signed the first ever skin cancer pledge, promising to work together to raise awareness of skin cancer. The city has also previously lobbied government calling for the licensing of sunbed salons, and run a high-profile campaign – the Look to Die For – educating people about the dangers of using sunbeds and encouraging the use of fake tan instead.