Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group

Skin Cancer

"Be Safe in the Sun", advice from a Dorset-based GP

Karen Kirkham

Dr Karen Kirkham, GP and Clinical Chair of Weymouth and Portland Locality, advises:

"As a group of GPs within the Weymouth and Portland locality, part of our responsibility is to promote good health within our population. And, as part of the NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group, we are in a position to be proactive.

"Whilst exploring some of the health outcomes within our local population, we realised that Dorset had the 4th highest incidence of malignant melanoma in the UK. This is the most serious type of skin cancer. 

Safer Sun Project

"Over the last three years we have promoted our Safer Sun project. This project has two purposes:

1. To raise awareness of sun safety and reducing the risk of skin cancer by:

  • Covering up in the sun
  • Wearing a hat
  • Using a high Sun Protection Factor (SPF) sun screen – minimum factor 20 (factor 50 for babies and children)
  • Staying out of the sun during the hottest part of the day
  • Educating all ages in sun safety

2. To promote early diagnosis and treatment - this will save lives. This means to provide education in the signs and symptoms of changes in moles and encouraging people to seek advice early if they are worried or notice changes in moles - see below:

People are advised to check moles regularly for:

  • Asymmetry - the two halves of your mole do not look the same
  • Border - The edges of your mole are irregular, blurred or jagged
  • Colour - the colour of your mole is uneven, with more than one shade
  • Diameter - your mole is wider than 6mm in diameter (the size of a pencil eraser)

"If you find anything unusual, go along to see your GP – we understand how important it is to identify potential problems early and, will refer you to a specialist if necessary.

Pop-Up Dermatology Clinics on Weymouth Esplanade

"Following the success of our 'Pop-Up Dermatology Clinics' in the summer of 2013 (where we ran a clinic with a Consultant Dermatologist on the Esplanade in Weymouth) we will be out and about on the Esplanade again in Weymouth this summer, promoting sun awareness and offering mole checks.

"Last year we picked up a number of potentially serious skin lesions in people who didn’t know they were at risk and, gave education to thousands of people. Truly saving lives!

Online resources

"There is a wealth of information available from local pharmacies and on the internet:

Be Clear On Cancer

"And finally - stay safe, stay healthy!"