“Our skin cancer rates are rising but what we need is a programme of public awareness, like they have in Australia, where instances of skin cancer are now beginning to drop," says Professor Jack Kelly, Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon at Bon Secours Hospital, Galway.

People living in the West of Ireland and other less sunny parts of the country can be too casual towards sun exposure which can affect their skin.

“I see a lot of skin cancer developing in people who work outdoors, such as farmers or even people who golf a lot”.

“People’s perceptions of their own risk can be wrong. If they think they’re high risk, they may be low and if they think they’re low risk, they might actually be high.” There is no certain 'type' or 'profile'.

 

Checking early

 

How often we go for screening can depend on our own family history and the level of risk our skin has, but there are surgical solutions for mole removals and newer technologies that makes mole mapping easier.

“The newer systems of mole mapping take a digital image, analyse the moles and give you a score,” says Kelly. “The higher the score, the more likely it is to be melanoma. The latest technology is able to give you a very good assessment of the likelihood of the mole being malignant.

"Technology today can give a good idea if a mole is worth removing."

“The first surgical procedure is to excise the mole. This could be a shave excision to reduce the size of the mole or a full excision to fully remove it and diagnose it. It could be benign, dysplastic or malignant and depending on the diagnosis, you may or may not need further surgery. “This can be scary for the patient. But, it’s better to check it out early, rather than wait and see.”