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‘A week to save your skin’: Skin cancer prevention week in France

From June 12-17, health professionals will be raising awareness of the risks, prevention measures and early warning signs 

Skin cancer prevention weeks begins in France on Sunday (June 12) Pic: Nastyaofly / Shutterstock

Next week (June 12-17) is skin cancer prevention week in France, an opportunity for dermatologist bodies to inform people about avoiding and detecting the condition.

On average, 80,000 people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in France, with cases of melanoma – the most serious form of the cancer – having doubled every 10 years since 1945 across the world. 

A survey carried out in 2021 by research firm Ipsos and the Syndicat national des dermatologues-vénéréologues (SNDV) found that – although they know about the risks – people in France do not adopt good habits when it comes to protecting their skin from the sun. 

Nearly half of the people surveyed did not put sunscreen on bare skin and 57% rarely or never wore a hat. 

In addition, more than 80% exposed themselves to the sun between 12:00 and 16:00, and 31% of 18 to 24-year-olds paid for UV tanning sessions. 

This year’s skin cancer prevention campaign – beginning with a five kilometre run event in Paris – will see doctors and former patients take to social media to share their knowledge and experiences. 

They will help to raise awareness about the different types of skin cancer, on protecting your skin, early detection for at-risk groups and the different treatment options.

The week ahead will also remind people that while everyone is at risk of developing skin cancer at some point in their life, some are more susceptible than others. 

More vulnerable groups include: 

  • Professional who work outside, such as farmers, builders and sportspeople
  • Men, who are generally less careful than women. Some 30% of people in France never go to the dermatologist, of which 62% are men
  • People with a lighter natural skin colour that burns or freckles easily 
  • People with a family history of skin cancer
  • People with certain types and a large number of moles
  • Older people

Finally, the campaign will push for new screening solutions, for greater education on self-examination techniques and for the modernisation of consultation systems. 

You can find out more (in French) on the SNDV Facebook and Twitter pages. 

Children in Montpellier taught about the risks 

The Institut de cancer de Montpellier has already held an event with local children in a bid to raise awareness of the risks of excessive sun exposure. 

Some 70% of melanomas are linked to sun exposure, according to the Institut national du cancer, and the risk is heightened for children, whose skin is more delicate. 

“Sunburn during childhood is one of the major risk factors in the development of a melanoma,” Florence Cousson-Gelie of the Epidaure Cancer institute in Montpellier, told France 3.

She added that our ability to resist sun damage is not renewed over the course of our lives but can be damaged irrevocably, putting us in danger of serious consequences later down the line.

“We are visiting our department’s schools to teach children in a playful manner about the risks that the sun can present.”

Experts recommend that people avoid exposure between 10:00 and 16:00: the hours within which the sun’s rays are strongest.

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