An astonishing 80,000 Kiwis are diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer every year. A smaller but still significant number are diagnosed with a more aggressive form.

Whilst the sun is marvellous for providing us with vitamin D and giving us a spring in our step as the long summer days roll in, it’s good to remember that we still need to protect ourselves against too much of it.

Skin cancer is the fourth most commonly reported cancer, and in the past year skin cancer removal has been the fourth most claimed procedure for a leading New Zealand health insurance provider, with payouts totalling $37.6 million. A skin cancer removal procedure alone can cost around $1,200-$2,500.

Rather than go into the grim statistics of mortality rates through this aggressive form of cancer, it’s much better to focus your energy on prevention. Far from hard, protection guidelines are relatively simple.

An easy one to remember is the Slip Slop Slap method.

Slip – Slip into some shade or slip into clothes that can give you adequate coverage from direct sun.

Slop – Slop on sunscreen, preferably one with a high sun protection factor (SPF). You’ll need approximately half a teaspoon for your ears, neck and face and a decent teaspoon per arm or leg.

Slap – Slap on your sunglasses and sunhat for extra protection.

Did you know?
– You should apply sunscreen 20 minutes before you head out into the sun.
– You can still get sunburned on cloudy days.
– All sunscreen (regardless of SPF) should be applied every two hours.
– Always use a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen of at least SPF30.

If you have any concerns about skin cancer you can find helpful information here, or if you want to know more about diagnosis please speak with your local GP.

Stay safe this summer and enjoy the sun responsibly.

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