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“Sunburn Art” Followers Risking Skin Cancer

I was somewhat disturbed at reading about the current trend for people treating their body as a canvas for the sun.

So-called “sunburn art” is the practice of applying stencils or sun-cream to select areas of the body before sunbathing so as to create artistically (or not) shaped patches of sunburnt skin.

By playing with the sun in this way, you are literally playing with fire. At best pointless, and at worst, utterly stupid, some commentators have likened the practice to a game of Russian roulette.

In the short-term, sunburn can result in redness, blistering, pain and swelling as well as dizziness, nausea and dehydration. Sunburned skin will usually start peeling after a few days and heal within a week - but the after affects can be deadly. In the long-term, sun damage can cause irreparable damage to our skin and significantly heighten our odds of developing skin cancer.

Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world, and is the fifth most common cancer in the UK, killing around 2,000 people every year.

The number of people developing one type of skin cancer, melanoma, continues to rise in the UK, with almost 13,000 new melanoma cases diagnosed each year.

Melanoma is a disease which, if diagnosed early, is usually curable but if allowed to grow and spread around the body, can become fatal.

Some avoidable delays in diagnosis occur because GPs fail to recognise early melanoma symptoms and refer patients to specialists before the disease has the chance to develop.

Most of the mistakes the Clinical Negligence team at Slater and Gordon Lawyers encounter involve pathologists misinterpreting tissue samples under the microscope.

According to a recent study by the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD), more than 75% of us would not know the difference between a mole and a melanoma and 72% of the 1,000 people polled in a BAD survey admitted to having been sunburnt in the previous 12 months - making them twice as likely to develop melanoma.

The study also revealed that more than 250,000 new cases of the more common and less dangerous non-melanoma skin cancer - which is typically caused by over-exposure to ultraviolet light - are diagnosed every year.

Although we have access to a huge choice of sun-care products and despite numerous skin cancer awareness campaigns, it would appear that many people are still not getting the message.

Mistakes in diagnosing melanoma can be very serious and our skin cancer specialists regularly witness the devastating consequences delays in diagnosing this disease can have on patients and their families.

All skin types can be damaged by exposure to ultraviolet radiation, and sunburn, whether severe or mild, can cause permanent and irreparable skin damage that can become worse with every new exposure.

Paul Sankey is a Senior Clinical and Medical Negligence Solicitor leading the Slater and Gordon Lawyers Clinical Negligence team in London.

If you or a loved one suffered from melanoma due to clinical or medical negligence, call Slater and Gordon Lawyers for a free consultation on freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online.

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