GP fronts skin cancer awareness campaign

A Somerset GP is the face of a skin cancer awareness campaign that will be rolled out across the South West over the summer.

Dr Adrian Burt appears on adverts to raise skin cancer awareness (Photo: Dr Adrian Burt)
Dr Adrian Burt appears on adverts to raise skin cancer awareness (Photo: Dr Adrian Burt)

Dr Adrian Burt appears on adverts urging people with unusual changes in their skin to visit their GP, as part of a six-week pilot that began on 16 June.

The Public Health England (PHE) campaign follows similar initiatives for lung, bowel, kidney and bladder cancers under the awareness-raising 'Be Clear On Cancer' brand.

This latest campaign will target residents in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, where skin cancer cases are double the national average. In 2012, there were over 800 new cases of melanoma and 100 people died of the disease.

A survey showed low awareness of risk factors for the disease among local residents.

The advert declares: 'A change to a mole isn't the only sign of skin cancer.'

It adds: 'If you notice any unusual or persistent changes to your skin, go to your doctor. Chances are it's nothing serious, but if it is skin cancer, finding it early makes it more treatable.'

Dr Burt said: 'The earlier skin cancer is diagnosed, the more successful treatment is likely to be. Your doctor will be aware of the signs, and will be able to assess whether further investigation is needed. So if you’re aware of any unusual or persistent changes to your skin, go to your GP.'

Awareness 'low'

Only 38% of South West residents know that people with many moles and freckles are more likely to get skin cancer, while only 32% know a family history of skin cancer increases risk. Just one in four (25%) of people with melanoma survive beyond five years.

Professor Debra Lapthorne, centre director of the Devon, Cornwall and Somerset PHE Centre, said: 'Statistics show that those living in the Devon, Cornwall and Somerset area are at an increased risk of developing skin cancer compared to the rest of England. There could be any number of reasons for this but it’s likely to be due to a high number of outdoor jobs and leisure pursuits as well as an older population.

'We are committed to raising awareness of the key signs of the disease, to encourage earlier diagnosis, when treatment is more likely to be successful. The campaign message is clear, if you notice any unusual or persistent changes to your skin, you should visit your doctor.'

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