With summer just around the corner, CancerCare Manitoba is holding skin care clinics across the city to help raise awareness of the effects of sunlight and ultraviolet rays.
"We’re trying to raise awareness about skin cancer prevention and UV safety and protecting yourself from the sun," said Liz Harland, cancer prevention project co-ordinator, who is based at CancerCare Manitoba’s St. Boniface Unit.
Harland said skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Canada and it is estimated that one in seven Canadians will develop some form of skin cancer in their lifetime.
During the last 50 years, Manitoba has seen a considerable increase in the number of individuals diagnosed with skin cancer, which can be attributed to various factors such as ozone depletion, an increase in tanning trends, the rise in popularity of tropical vacations and an aging population, which means increased exposure to the sun over time.
Harland said that, while certain segments of the population are particularly susceptible to sunburn and UV damage, skin cancer can affect anyone.
"Genetics plays a part and if people have lots of moles or are very freckly, they tend to burn quickly and should be particularly careful, but people with darker skin should mindful, too. After all, Bob Marley died of skin cancer," she said.
The CancerCare Manitoba team will be at different events this summer and bringing along a custom-made UV detect camera, which has a dual lens that provides a Polaroid-like image that shows two frames – a standard photo and another one showing the UV damage people have accumulated over time.
Funded by the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation, the significant feature of the camera is that it captures skin damage not visible to the naked eye.
"There is also a digital version of the camera, but we like the Polaroid version as it gives people something to take away and means we don’t have to bring printer and laptop to the events," Harland said, noting the team will also be sharing sun/UV safety information at the sessions.
She stressed the photos show "sub-clinical damage" and are primarily intended to raise public awareness about sun damage and skin protection.
In terms of protecting yourself, Harland said it’s never too early to start.
"Exposure will accumulate over a lifetime, so the sooner you start protecting yourself, the better," she said. "Awareness about cumulative skin damage is important."
Harland said wearing a hat that covers your ears and neck, wearing long-sleeved clothing and sunglasses, seeking shade and applying a good amount of sunscreen are good ways to help prevent UV exposure: "A lot of people don’t put on enough sunscreen."
The team’s roster will include an appearance at the MTS Super-Spike volleyball tournament at Maple Grove Rugby Park on July 19 and 20.
For more information, visit www.cancercare.mb.ca