WA families urged to be ‘sunsmart’ this summer

Kylie Beresford with her children Tom, Josie and Emma. Picture supplied
Kylie Beresford with her children Tom, Josie and Emma. Picture supplied

A SORRENTO mother-of-three who found a melanoma on her leg is urging families to be ‘sunsmart’ this summer.

Kylie Beresford (39) was 23 years old and backpacking around Europe when she noticed a mole on her thigh had changed shape.

“I had this mole on my leg that had never been a concern, then one day I noticed that it had grown a spur and had significantly changed shape and colour,” she said.

“I found a GP in London who dismissed my concerns and sent me own my way.

“But my intuition told me to go back and so the next day I did and demanded he do some tests.

“After a very nervous two week wait it was confirmed that it was a melanoma and needed to be removed immediately.

“My message is two fold: always trust your gut instincts and remember to slip, slop, slap as well as slide on some sunnies and seek shade whenever the UV is over 3.”

Cancer Council WA launched its 2019-20 summer skin cancer campaign, ‘Don’t let the sun see your DNA’ in December, and revealed that treating skin cancer cost WA more than $90 million a year.

SunSmart manager Mark Strickland said while many Western Australians were aware of the link between excessive UV radiation and skin cancer, many were unaware of the cumulative effect of UV and did not routinely use sun protection during daily activities.

“The UV in sunlight penetrates our skin to the cells beneath the surface, so each time the sun sees our skin cells when the UV is 3 or above, it’s doing damage to the DNA in them that can keep building up, until one day it causes a skin cancer,” he said.

“The stronger the UV radiation, the faster the DNA damage occurs and that can happen in as little as 10 minutes on a summer day in WA.”

Mr Strickland said the campaign uses a UV camera to emphasise the cumulative skin damage caused by UV that the human eye can’t see.

“The UV camera uses ultraviolet light to show skin damage, caused by UV radiation, which is normally hidden,” he said.

Mr Strickland said that half of all sunburns in Australia occurred during passive recreation such as watching sport, gardening or picnicking, or during chores around the house.

“Cancer Council data shows that while only 11 per cent of Aussie adults deliberately attempt to tan their skin, 64 per cent of adults actually do have tanned skin,” he said.

“We know that a tan is a sign of damaged skin and a risk factor for skin cancer.

“The fact that so many have an unintentional tan is an indicator that these adults need to improve their everyday sun protection.

“The key to avoiding skin damage is to integrate SunSmart measures into your daily routine.

“Make it easy for yourself to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide when the UV is three or above: keep a broadbrim hat in the car or at work for when you duck out for lunch.

“Apply sunscreen in the morning before you leave the house; don’t forget to wear long sleeves and sunnies; and seek shade when the UV is forecast to reach three.”

Visit www.myUV.com.au for UV index and sun protection tips.