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Tuesday, July 14, 1998 Published at 23:04 GMT 00:04 UK


Keep your shirt on

Builders and other outdoor workers have a high risk of getting skin cancer

People who work outdoors need to keep covered up, use sun cream and wear hats to protect themselves from the sun, according to the Health Education Authority.

BBC Health Correspondent Richard Hannaford reports on the skin cancer risks
The Authority is launching a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers that outdoor workers face from skin cancer.

It says people who work outside, including builders, farmers and fishermen, tend to believe constant exposure to the sun makes them less likely to get skin cancer.

But the opposite is true. Fair-skinned people who have had a lot of exposure to sun, for example, through working outdoors or growing up in hot climates, are more likely to get non-melanoma cancer.

Although it is less harmful than melanoma, which causes 75% of deaths from skin cancer, non-melanoma cancer leads to a higher risk of developing melanoma in later life.

Most common skin cancer

The Health Education Authority says skin cancer affects around 36,000 people in the UK each year - 90% of them develop non-melanoma cancer. It is most commonly found in people over 50 and people who work outdoors and have been over-exposed to the sun.

The number of people suffering from skin cancer in the UK has shot up in recent years, from 19,000 in 1974 to 36,000 in 1989.

[ image: Skin cancer can mostly be treated if caught early]
Skin cancer can mostly be treated if caught early
The Health Education Authority is launching a campaign with East Surrey Health Authority to educate outdoor workers and their managers about the risks.

The pack includes information on running sun safety workshops and information about covering up from the sun and which sun creams to use.

Christopher New, skin cancer campaign manager, said: "The most common form of skin cancer is linked to long-term exposure to the sun, so people whose jobs keep them out in the sun are at high risk."

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