Friday 17 November 2017

Why we need to save our skins

• While it is welcome news for cancer patients that the drug Ipilimumab has been approved for the treatment of Irish patients with malignant melanoma (Irish Independent, May 4), we need to take a lead from our Northern neighbours if we want to be truly serious about reducing mortality rates from skin cancer.

At the same time as the climbdown on the provision of Ipilimumab to melanoma patients in the Republic, Northern Ireland Health Minister Edwin Poots introduced a new law banning the use of sunbeds for under 18s, a brave public health decision that will surely benefit young people. Skin cancer rates have been rising over the last 25 years, as highlighted in the recent excellent publication, An All-Ireland Cancer Atlas (jointly published by the National Cancer Registry and the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry). Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer on this island.

The International Association for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, has indicated that using sunbeds can increase the risk of developing malignant melanoma by up to 75pc. In 2009 it categorised sun bed exposure as being as significant a carcinogen as cigarettes.

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