Health and Consumer Affairs develops a campaign to raise awareness of skin cancer with the AECC

The Health Delegate encourages the people of Almeria to self-examine their skin and check themselves regularly with the support of dermatologists.

The territorial delegate for Health and Consumer Affairs, Juan de la Cruz Belmonte, together with the president of the Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC) in Almeria, Magdalena Cantero, and the mayor of Adra, Manuel Cortés, presented the ‘Campaign for photoprotection and prevention of skin cancer’ in the municipality of Adra, with the aim of raising public awareness of the risk of sun exposure and promoting responsible photoprotection and early detection of skin cancer.

Belmonte stressed that “skin cancer can be cured in 100% of cases if it is detected in time”, which is why, she said, “it would be good for everyone to learn the technique of skin self-examination, check themselves regularly and learn to identify the warning signs of skin cancer, which is our aim with campaigns like this one”.

For her part, Magdalena Cantero, stated that “today we are going to the beach to try to save lives, and we are doing it in two ways: on the one hand with prevention, as volunteers from the Association are going to hand out more than 300 samples of sunscreen, and we will give guidelines on how to act responsibly on the beaches, and secondly, we will carry out early detection, which is the key to saving lives, with the check-up carried out by dermatologists from the Andalusian Health Service, who have come to the Adra stand”.

Manuel Cortés thanked the Spanish Association Against Cancer and the Regional Ministry of Health for having “chosen our city as the starting point at provincial level for this extremely important campaign”. “Health is and must always be a priority issue in our management as City Council, so we continue to work and support all campaigns whose main purpose is to raise awareness and sensitise the population on the imperative need to look after our health, taking special care of our skin, especially in this summer season,” he stressed. He also put the emphasis on prevention, as “it undoubtedly saves lives”.

In Almeria, 3,785 cases of cancer were diagnosed in 2022, of which 257 were skin-related and another 80 of skin melanoma, which represents about 9% of the total. In Andalusia it is estimated that around 13,000 cases are detected annually, of which around 700 are melanomas. The most frequent, however, are non-melanomas: basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, which are less aggressive than the former. In Spain, where skin cancer has tripled in recent decades, 5,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed each year, approximately one in five of which is fatal. In addition, more than 70,000 additional cases of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are reported annually.

The campaign, based on the action protocol designed by Soludable, kicks off this Tuesday with a synchronised day in the eight Andalusian provincial capitals, from 10am to 2pm. A team of health professionals from the Andalusian Health Service, made up of doctors specialising in dermatology and nurses or auxiliary technicians, together with volunteers from the AECC will carry out skin checks and give personalised health advice in the tents set up in each city.

The regional delegate for Health and Consumer Affairs, Juan de la Cruz Belmonte, pointed out that “our main activity today is to raise public awareness of the importance of early detection of skin cancer. On this day we are going to check those small spots and moles that change shape or colour, so that we can see if it evolves to a malignant stage or evolves in a different way in which it has to be monitored”. Belmonte stressed prevention and monitoring and the importance of using sunscreen from the early hours of the morning and not sunbathing in the middle of the day”.

The ABCDE rule

The dermatologists and nurses taking part in the information day on 25 July will explain the ABCDE rule, which can be very useful in the early detection of melanoma, the most dangerous skin cancer, to all those who come to the tents: A for asymmetry (one half of the mole is not the same as the other); B for irregular borders (the borders are uneven, blurred or poorly defined); C for colour (the pigmentation is not uniform and changes in colour are observed from one area of the mole to another); D for diameter (the mole changes in size and measures more than 6 millimetres) and E for evolution (the size, shape or colour of the mole changes over time).

Although the campaign is aimed at the general population, it pays special attention to people who are more vulnerable to sun damage and the development of skin cancer, such as children and adolescents, pregnant women, the elderly, people with fair skin, with moles and freckles, with a personal or family history of skin cancer, with genetic diseases such as albinism or xeroderma pigmentosum, with autoimmune diseases such as lupus erythematosus or transplant recipients undergoing immunosuppressive treatment.

During the day, AECC volunteers will hand out free samples of photoprotectors and educational leaflets, which include the ‘Decalogue of photoprotection’, ten keys for a Soludable sun exposure:

Avoid using artificial tanning booths. Exposure to UVA radiation accelerates skin ageing and increases the risk of melanoma.
Avoid sunbathing during the hours of maximum irradiation. Between 12 noon and 4 p.m., stay in the shade and use appropriate sun protection measures.
Cover yourself with an umbrella, hat, sunglasses and long sleeves and trousers.
Use high protection creams (SPF>15) with UVA and UVB filters. Apply it 30 minutes before exposure and renew it every 2 hours and after bathing.
Drink plenty of water and fruit juices. A proper diet will help you to compensate for the oxidative stress caused by ultraviolet radiation.
Know your skin phototype (there are six phototypes from I to VI). If you have phototype I or II, you should pay special attention to your protection.
Children under 3 years of age should not be directly exposed to the sun, protect them with clothing, a cap, sunglasses and very high protection creams (30+).
Protect yourself not only when you go to the beach, but also when you carry out any type of outdoor activity (work, walks, sports, leisure, etc.).
Check the ultraviolet index and protect yourself when it is equal to or higher than 3. Do not let your guard down on cloudy days. Certain circumstances (altitude, wind, sand or snow) increase the risk of sun damage.
Check your skin regularly. If you notice changes in the colour, size, shape or any symptoms (itching, bleeding or change in size) of a mole, consult your doctor.

 

Campaign development

Those interested took the opportunity to have a free mole check with a dermatoscope carried out by the specialists, who recorded their history of sun exposure and photoprotection and, where appropriate, any suspicious lesions on their skin. Those who presented any were given a medical report for further treatment.

After the skin check, all participants received personalised advice from the nursing staff based on their phototype and the types of outdoor activities they do. These two factors are essential for matching sun protection to their lifestyle. To promote implementation, thanks to Soludable’s laboratory sponsors (La Roche-Posay, Cantabria Labs, Avène and Eucerín), everyone received samples of creams.

To end the route, the AECC volunteers invited the participants to fill in a satisfaction survey in which they shared their satisfaction with this type of initiative, which should be repeated to raise awareness of the importance of photoprotection and prevention of skin cancer while taking advantage of the benefits of the sun.

 

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