THE Macmillan Cancer Support charity has teamed up with Great Western Hospital to promote Sun Awareness Week.

The British Association of Dermatologists organises the annual festivities, which run until Sunday and aims to highlight the dangers of skin cancer and give advice on ways to stay safe.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that affects 110,330 people in the country, with 13,500 cases diagnosed each year.

It tends to affect women more than men, particularly those aged between 15 and 34, although anyone can get the illness.

It is the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the country.

Tina Phillips, a Macmillan skin cancer nurse based at GWH, said: “Most melanomas are linked to over exposure to UV rays from the sun or a sunbed.

“About half of all melanomas start with a change in previously normal looking skin.

“This usually looks like a dark area or an abnormal new mole. Other melanomas develop from a mole or freckle that you already have – maybe a mole that changes colour, bleeds, itches or is painful.

“If you are worried about any changes on your skin you should visit your GP.”

The charity advises people to go to see their doctor if they spot any unusual marks, moles, skin bleeding and a dark coloured stripe under a nail.

Tina said: “Skin cancer, if caught early, is very treatable and actually has one of the highest survival rates of all cancers and being sun aware is key.

“Our advice is to avoid sun beds, wear a high SPF sunscreen with a four-star rating or more so it will block out UVA as well as UVB rays, and cover up in the sun.”

As part of the Sun Awareness Week the British Association of Dermatologists will be holding workshops and roadshows across the country which they are encouraging the public to attend.

For more information about the festivities, visit