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Play it safe with skin cancer

Model Pippa O’ Connor on Grafton street for the launch of The Mole Screening Clinic’s ‘Play it safe’ campaign.If you play golf, there’s a good chance you’ll get skin cancer. That’s the startling message of a new cancer screening campaign organised by Dublin’s mole screening clinic on Grafton Street, and supported by Halpenny Golf.

Getting four to six hours of sun exposure from a round of golf, not wearing or reapplying sunscreen, teeing off mid-morning when the sun’s rays are at their strongest, and having little or no shade, if you stay on the fairways, are all factors that contribute to the dangers of skin cancer for golfers, the experts say.

However, the medics at The Mole Screening Clinic, Ireland’s only dedicated melanoma detection clinic, say there are numerous ways in which golfers can protect themselves, and they are running an information campaign for April, May and June this year to promote sensible skin protection for golfers.

Information leaflets and posters will be available in golf shops and participating golf clubs, and a 25% discount, worth €50, is being offered in April, May and June on all mole-mapping consultations, where moles and lesions are medically assessed and recorded for future tracking.

Fred Couples, a former golf world number one and Masters’ winner, has had numerous cancerous lesions removed from his hands, in addition, Texan PGA player Tom Kite, US Open winner Andy North and English golfer Brian Davis are among dozens of the big names in golf that have been treated for skin cancer.

How to Play Safe

While dermatologists admit that the odds of getting skin cancer are worse for golfers, the damage done to skin while playing golf without wearing sunscreen can be reversed, they say.  Importantly, 99 per cent of all skin cancers are curable, if detected early, so prompt screening of any suspicious moles or lesions is essential.  

The best advice for golfers, according to the Mole Screening Clinic, is to apply SPF30+ broad spectrum sunscreen, which gives UVA and UVB protection, liberally and frequently.  Golfers should use sunscreen 20 minutes before heading out to play, and re-apply it at least every two hours.

Up to 90% of UV rays can pass through light clouds, so care is needed on cloudy days too, according to the experts.  Golfers should wear clothing that covers as much skin as possible, especially long trousers and a long-sleeved shirt for the shoulders, arms and legs.  Sun-protective clothing is available in many golf pro shops, with fabric that allows only a limited amount of UV rays to penetrate.

A hat or visor, with a five-inch brim, will protect the top of the head, neck, ears and face, and the most effective way to protect eyes is to wear sunglasses that wrap around the sides of the face, like those made famous by golf’s former world number one David Duval.

Irish Skin Cancer Rates

Excessive sun exposure is believed to cause 90 per cent of all skin cancer cases, although genetics, skin type, and a weak immune system are also causal factors.

Skin cancer rates doubled in Ireland between 1998 and 2008, and just over 8,000 new cases are diagnosed every year, making skin cancer the most common cancer in Ireland these days, for both men and women.  Ireland is now the 4th worst country in Europe for rates of skin cancer, indicating that, firstly, despite relatively low levels of sunshine at home, Irish people are still a high risk population, and, more worryingly, Irish people are not vigilant about skin cancer, and are generally unaware of symptoms to look out for.

According to Mike Malone, Managing Director of The Mole Screening Clinic, Irish people have a skin type that is more susceptible to skin cancer.

He says: “Most of the Irish population are either skin type 1 or 2; which burns regularly and tans with difficulty, so unfortunately they are at greater risk of skin cancer.   It is good to get out and about in the sun, and golf is great for fitness at any age, but we need to protect skin from the sun’s harmful rays at all times.

“The simple and convenient screening service offered at the Mole Screening Clinic makes it quick and easy to have moles and skin lesions examined, detecting problems early, and giving people peace of mind in the sunshine.”

For further information, or to book an appointment at The Mole Screening Clinic, log on to www.molescreen.ie or call 01 670 7070.

Mapping Moles

The Mole Screening Clinic is Ireland’s first and only dedicated melanoma detection clinic, specialising in the detection of early stage skin cancer, using a combination of the latest technology (dermoscopy) and an experienced medical team, including specialist nurses and dermatologists.

No referral is necessary, and patients can have a mole examined, in as little as 15 minutes, by a medical team with expertise in skin cancer detection.  A single mole screening costs just €49, while an hour-long mole-mapping consultation, where moles and lesions are recorded for future tracking and monitoring, is priced at €199.

A 25% golfers’ reduction on the price of a full mole-mapping consultation is available throughout the months of April, May and June 2012, as part of the Play Safe golfing campaign.