The Minister for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy, Hildegarde Naughton, launched the National Skin Cancer Prevention Plan 2023-2026.
Skin cancer is the most commonly-diagnosed cancer in Ireland, with around 13,000 new cases every year. This number is projected to double by 2045.
However, the majority of cases can be prevented by following skin protection behaviours.
Developed by the National Cancer Control Programme in partnership with Healthy Ireland, the National Skin Cancer Prevention Plan 2023-2026 was completed in consultation with cancer charities, healthcare professionals and national organisations representing priority groups.
It builds on the foundations of public awareness created via the original plan which ran from 2019 to 2022.
It includes a number of actions designed to target specific groups which have been identified as being particularly vulnerable to UV damage.
These include children and young people, outdoor workers and those who participate in outdoor leisure activities as well as sunbed users.
Its core messages will be amplified through HSE’s annual SunSmart communications campaign which uses a range of platforms to provide targeted key messages about skin protective behaviours.
Minister Naughton said, “skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Ireland, but it is also largely preventable and we can all significantly reduce our risk by adopting practical skin protection behaviours. The new Skin Cancer Prevention Plan builds on the excellent work already done to build awareness and it provides a road map to ensure that skin protection becomes part of our everyday routine, and I would like to thank the team in the National Cancer Control Programme for their extensive work on this.”
“As well as being the cornerstone of our National Cancer Strategy, cancer prevention embodies the principles of Healthy Ireland. We want to empower everyone to take positive steps to safeguard their health and wellbeing, so that disease prevention is something we practice every day.”
Dr Triona McCarthy, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, National Cancer Control Programme, said, “the National Skin Cancer Prevention Plan 2023-2026 outlines how we can support individuals to reduce their risk of skin cancer. This is a great opportunity to harness the power of workplaces, community groups, recreational groups, healthcare professionals and others to make SunSmart behaviours the norm.”
“It is so important for physical and mental health to enjoy time outdoors but we should do so while also protecting skin from UV radiation to reduce the risk of our most common cancer. The best ways to protect skin are to cover up with long sleeves, a sunhat, sunglasses and use sunscreen; limit time in the sun when UV radiation is strongest, typically between the hours of 11am and 3pm, from April to September in Ireland; and never use a sunbed. Skin cancer prevention resources are available at hse.ie/sunsmart.”
Skin cancer prevention campaigner Bernie Rice said, “malignant melanoma skin cancer took the life of our bright, intelligent daughter Sharon. She was 31 when first diagnosed in 2006. A mole on her leg had changed but it went undetected and she was not aware of the implications of it. Eventually she got it checked and was told that it was malignant melanoma. Sharon underwent surgery and had the melanoma removed and made a good recovery. However, the following year the melanoma returned and spread to her lymph nodes. She passed away the following year at the young age of 33. Skin cancer is preventable. In Sharon’s memory, I try to raise awareness of the importance of protecting your skin from the sun, in the hope that it will help save lives.”