'Don't Be a Debbie'

Latest warnings about staying safe in the sun from Kent's health bosses

A new poster campaign's been launched by NHS Eastern and Coastal Kent to warn women of the dangers of sun damage.

The 'Don't Be A Debbie' poster is aimed at young women who take chances with their skincare while trying to get that perfect summer tan and features a prematurely aged woman.

Karen Mackinnon, Macmillan Clinical Nurse Specialist at Kent and Canterbury Hospital, said: "Damage from the sun can cost you more than just your looks.

"Sun tanning and sunburn can cause skin cancer in later years, but some people are still taking risks and failing to use sunscreen with a high enough SPF.

"With this campaign we are trying to highlight the ageing effects of the sun, as this may persuade young people to take more care.

"Our advice is to enjoy the sun safely by using sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more, cover up with loose cotton clothing and wear hats and shades whenever you are out and about."

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in white people. Malignant Melanoma is a cancer which can start anywhere in the skin.

The number of people who develop melanoma is continuing to rise and more than 8,900 people in the UK are diagnosed each year.

It is the most dangerous form of skin cancer; if it is not removed the cells can grow deeper into the layer of skin and spread to blood vessels or lymph nodes and then travel to other parts of the body.

Between 2000 and 2007, 1,480 people in Kent and Medway were diagnosed with malignant melanoma and 442 died of the disease (42 deaths in Swale, 38 in Canterbury, 36 in Thanet, 35 in Shepway, 33 in Dover and 20 in Ashford).

NHS Eastern and Coastal Kent's Deputy Director of Public Health Andrew Scott-Clark said: “Rates of malignant melanoma across England are increasing. Although eastern and coastal Kent rates are lower than the national average we have also seen a recent rapid increase.

“In particular, the number of deaths from malignant melanoma is higher than the national average in Shepway with notable rises also being seen in Swale and Thanet.

“We would ask people to remember, if you are worried, report any unusual moles or skin changes to your doctor. Finding skin cancer early saves lives.”

Dont be a Debbie Kent