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Tom Brake

Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington

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MP goes Molewatching

May 13, 2004 12:00 AM

SunSmart campaign manager Di Swanston and Tom Brake with SunSmart T-shirtTom Brake had his skin checked at a special MoleWatch clinic organised by Cancer Research UK in Parliament this week - Sun Awareness Week (10-16 May).

Everyone working on the parliamentary estate was invited to the clinic, run jointly with the Occupational Health Service of the Houses of Parliament, to have their skin checked by a dermatologist or skin cancer nurse.

Tom Brake MP says: " The clinic has been hugely popular and shows that people are starting to take on board messages about skin cancer and the importance of early diagnosis.

"However, too many people still don't protect themselves in the sun. I would urge my constituents to follow the SunSmart code and to visit their GP if they are worried about their skin."

SunSmart campaign manager, Di Swanston, adds: "Early detection is vital for improving skin cancer survival rates. However, preventing skin cancer in the first place is the simplest and best way to reduce the incidence and cut the 1600 melanoma deaths each year in the UK.

"Follow the SunSmart code to protect yourself and your family in the sun:

Then apply factor fifteen or above sunscreen."

Skin cancer rates in the UK are at worrying levels and are still increasing - the UK has seen a 24 per cent increase in new cases of melanoma over the past five years. Cancer Research UK is also concerned that some parents are not protecting their children adequately in the sun.

A national survey*, commissioned by Cancer Research UK and Boots, revealed that over a third of parents in Great Britain admit their child has been sunburnt, despite the majority knowing that overexposure to the sun can cause skin cancer. Children's skin is much more delicate than adult's and research shows that sunburn in childhood can double the risk of getting skin cancer in later life.

To mark the start of Sun Awareness Week Cancer Research UK launched Kids Cook Quick - a poster campaign aimed at parents and carers of young children. It encourages them to make sure their children are properly protected whenever they are in the sun.

The Molewatch clinic was held to raise awareness of the importance of checking your skin for changes such as moles that change shape, size or colour, or moles that start to itch or bleed. Anything suspicious should be reported immediately to your GP who may refer you to a dermatologist if necessary.

Steve Wicks, Head of Parliament's Occupational Health team says: "Thankfully the majority of staff have left the clinic reassured. The important thing is that people learn how to protect themselves in the sun and that they check their skin regularly for any changes."

For more information about protecting yourself and your family in the sun, and for advice on changes to look out for, go to www.sunsmart.org.uk or call Cancer Research UK's cancer information nurses on 020 7061 8355. If you are concerned about any moles or patches of skin you should book an appointment with your GP immediately.