Get clued up about skin cancer

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With skin cancer on the rise, the Public Health Agency (PHA) and Cancer Focus Northern Ireland have taken their message to the people who deal directly with our skin by holding workshops for beauty therapy tutors.

The PHA and Cancer Focus NI have held a series of workshops for beauty therapy tutors in further education colleges across Northern Ireland with the aim of improving their knowledge and skills in the causes, prevention and early detection of skin cancer.

Dr Miriam McCarthy, Consultant in Public Health at the PHA, explained: “The number of cases of malignant melanoma, which is the most serious form of skin cancer, in Northern Ireland has almost trebled in the past 25 years, highlighting that action needs to be taken now. Malignant melanoma is associated with UV exposure, which can come directly from the sun or from sunbed use; both sources of ultraviolet (UV) radiation are damaging to our skin.”

The Public Health Agency, Cancer Focus and hospital consultants were very impressed by the enthusiasm of beauty therapists to play a role in promoting skin safety to their clients. Following the workshops, a range of teaching resources will be provided for use by beauty therapy students.

Marbeth Ferguson, Skin Cancer Prevention Co-ordinator at Cancer Focus NI, said: “The tutors will be able to impart their knowledge to future beauty therapists who will be well-placed to advise their clients on protecting their skin from UV damage and help them know how to spot early signs of skin cancer.

“It’s important for everyone to watch out for the early signs of cancer by examining their skin regularly and being aware of any changes. If you notice a lump, a sore which does not heal, a mole which changes shape, size, colour or bleeds easily, or if you have any concerns, seek advice from your GP immediately.”

For further information on sun safety see

If you are concerned about skin cancer you can also call the Cancer Focus NI free information and support helpline on 0800 783 3339 or email one of the charity’s nurses on