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Highlights from the World Congress of Melanoma 2017

Sun Screen:

Does Sun Screen cause skin cancer? – the nanoparticles Zinc Oxide and Titanium Oxide which provide broad spectrum protection against UVA and UVB are absorbed in such low concentrations that they do not cause any harm to the body. The sun will give you skin cancer not your sun screen lotion

Avoid sunscreens that come in aerosols and sprays, use creams

Regular use of sun screens does not cause Vitamin D Deficiency

Sun screen brands are very similar – use a brand that feels right for your skin and apply every 2 hours when in the sun. Don’t forget your hat, sunglasses, clothing and the shade

Melanoma Prevention:

Government Role -Skin Cancer Awareness campaigns plus total ban on sun bed should be important health priorities for policy makers. For every €1 invested in such campaigns €3.6 is saved on health care.

Patient Role – avoid sun burns especially childhood, apply sun protection properly and regularly and never go below SPF 15, avoid sun beds, get your skin checked regularly

Doctor Role – detect melanoma as early as possible by using or referring to clinicians trained in dermoscopy and imaging devices.


Public health campaigns should focus on directing patients to skilled medical practitioners trained in dermoscopy for full body skin checks. Reason being that the vast majority of melanomas missed by the patient were located on anatomical sites that were difficult to visualise on self skin examination. It is thought that patients will miss 75% of melanomas by self skin examination.

Dermoscopy and skin cancer imaging devices optimise screening and detection of early and featureless melanomas and reduces unnecessary excisions of benign lesions.

Incidence of melanoma is increasing or at best constant. Mortality is not improving.

Early detection of melanoma has not been a health priority unfortunately for many countries. This will need to change

Most melanoma deaths occur in people that have not had their skin checked or left it too late

To save more lives, people need to have their skin checked. Unfortunately, primary care does not have enough skilled clinicians to undertake more screening. Dermoscopy involves considerable training and expertise

8% of patients who have had a melanoma will go on to have a second primary melanoma, hence the importance of regular follow up

Melanoma risk is almost doubled in people with a history of sun burns. Sunburns are more harmful in childhood and have a role to play in future melanoma development. However, evidence shows you can always reduce your risk by starting effective sun protection behaviour as early as possible – an important concept for public heath campaigns