Everyone must take actions against skin cancer Cancer Health Centre expert
Skin cancer is a colourblind and fatal disease, according to Rhonda Smith-Simmons, education officer at the Bermuda Cancer Health Centre.
She told a meeting of Hamilton Rotarians this week that “skin cancer is the most preventable cancer, so it is really a shame that it’s also, right now, the fastest growing cancer around the world”.
Skin cancer affects people of all regions but it is of particular concern in those countries that are close to the equator such as Bermuda and Australia.
“It’s definitely touching our shores,” as she told of two young Bermudians who had recently been diagnosed with the disease.
Though those with fair skin, light eyes and lighter hair all have increased risk of developing skin cancer, Ms Smith-Simmons warned that everyone is at risk, regardless of their complexion.
“One of my biggest challenges now in this role is convincing people of colour that they can actually develop skin cancer and that they need to protect themselves but invariably they feel that these messages are not directed at them,” she said.
She cited the example of Bob Marley who in 1981 died of melanoma the rarest and deadliest form of skin cancer.
Doctors recommended surgery, but the reggae singer chose instead to pursue alternative remedies in accordance with his Rastafarian beliefs. The cancer eventually spread to his brain resulting in the singer’s premature death.
“He was taken from us too soon simply because he chose not to treat the melanoma,” Ms Smith-Simmons said.
She urged all Bermudians to protect themselves from the sun’s rays, particularly during the summer months.
She added that wearing sunscreen, covering up with sun-protective clothing, donning wide-brimmed hats, seeking shade and staying hydrated can decrease the risk of developing skin cancer.
Ms Smith-Simmons said the “message is basically for everyone”; regardless of the colour of their skin all Bermudians should take these precautions.