Sunshine Coast could be behind cancer surge

A leading consultant at the DGH says the sunshine which Eastbourne has become famous for is helping cause an upsurge in skin cancers among local people.

Andrew Moody, who is part of the hospital’s maxillofacial team, told the Herald that he has noticed a steady increase of cases coming through the DGH in recent years.

He says one of the main reasons could be the town’s sun-kissed location. Eastbourne has been tagged the Sunshine Coast after consistently being named the UK’s sunniest town.

However, while the title may benefit tourism, the reality of the knock-on health implications appear to not be so desirable.

Mr Moody, who specialises in facial cancers, said, “I deal with lots of skin cancers, of which we have an abundance in Eastbourne.

“Melanoma is definitely on the increase here.

“Not only is it sunny locally but we have an elderly population who are affluent and have spent time abroad.

“Part of the problem is that people do things about the heat. The heat is not the only thing to consider.

“A lot of people, for example, think it is impossible to get sun burn when skiing, which simply is not true.”

In fact, recent research has found that up to 80 per cent of the sun’s harmful rays can penetrate through clouds, even when it does not seem particularly sunny, locals should still taken precautions such as wearing sunscreen.

Mr Moody did explain that there were other factors besides sunlight that contributed to the problem before urging local people to take care when out in the sun.

Mr Moody also listed common symptoms and said one of the easiest ways to detect melanoma is to keep an eye out for moles, either new ones or existing ones which start to change.

Any moles which get bigger, change shape, get darker, start to itch, bleed or look inflamed need to be checked out.

According to Cancer Research, around 22 per cent of melanoma cases in men appear on the head or neck, with 14 per cent for women.

For men the most common area for cancerous moles is the trunk (38 per cent of melanomas) while for women it is the legs (42 per cent), with some experts saying it coincides with areas either sex is likely to leave uncovered when the sun is out.

As well as wearing sunscreen, people should not expose themselves to the sun for long periods of time, make sure they have a hat on and spend time in the shade on sunny days.

Mr Moody said anyone with concerns should go to the GP for advice immediately but said that in many cases skin cancers were either not present, or treatable.

However, he added, “It [the levels of melonoma] is systematically going up.”