As May marks Melanoma Awareness Month, and many people have more time to spend outside due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that communities across Canada be reminded of the importance of sun safety at this time of year.
Over-exposure to UV radiation is the leading cause of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. Though skin cancer is 90 per cent preventable, diagnosis rates are increasing. Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. One in six Canadians born in the 1990s will get skin cancer in their lifetimes.
There are more new cases of skin cancer each year than the number of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers combined. While most forms of non-melanoma skin cancer can be surgically removed, melanoma is an aggressive form of cancer. The five-year relative survival rate of melanoma that has metastasized is just 18 per cent.
Despite these figures, many people seek sun without taking the recommended precautionary measures, or believe that only severe burns contribute to ones risk of skin cancer. In fact, any darkening of the skin, including a tan, is indicative of UV damage.
“Studies show that young people still aren’t taking sun safety seriously despite incidence rates rising every year,” said Kathy Barnard, stage 4 melanoma survivor and Founder of Save Your Skin Foundation. “Skin cancer can be deadly, but it is also highly preventable.”