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Minister and celebrites back campaign to raise awareness of skin cancer amongst well-being, hair and beauty professionals

Ministers and celebrities are backing a campaign launched today by the Melanoma Taskforce and British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) to help well-being, hair and beauty professionals spot the signs of skin cancer in their clients.

Skin cancer kills more than 2,500 people in the UK every year and its most deadly form, malignant melanoma, is now the second most common cancer among young people in the UK. In an effort to improve awareness and early detection of the disease, the Taskforce and BAD have produced ‘Mole and Skin Check Guidelines’ to educate hairdressers, masseurs, therapists and other well-being professionals to spot the signs of skin cancer. The campaign has the support of a number of high-profile celebrities and industry leaders including actress and presenter Amanda Holden, Hollyoaks star Gemma Merna, TV & radio presenter Sarah Cawood and celebrity make-up artists Ruby Hammer and Millie Kendall (Ruby and Millie).

The guidelines will be officially launched in Parliament on Tuesday 21st June with the backing of Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health, Anne Milton MP, who will emphasise the crucial role that professionals within these industries can play in facilitating the early detection of skin cancer.

It is vital that skin cancers are detected and treated early as swift diagnosis can help save lives. While professionals in the well-being, hair and beauty industries are not expected to diagnose skin cancers, they are uniquely placed to be able to notice changes in moles or suspicious lesions. Endorsed by nine leading industry bodies, the guidelines will provide clear and simple information on how to spot the signs of skin cancer, and how professionals can encourage their clients to seek medical advice.

The guidelines were developed as a result of recommendations made to Government by the Melanoma Taskforce in its ‘2015 Skin Cancer Visions’ report. They are also supported by research conducted by Nottingham City Hospital NHS Trust, in association with the patient group, Skcin. This research found that over 80% of hairdressers and around 95% of beauty therapists would like to know more about recognising the signs of skin cancer.

Siân James MP, Chair of the Melanoma Taskforce, said:
“These guidelines represent a major step forward in raising awareness of the importance of early detection of skin cancer. It is something for which we have consistently campaigned. I am also pleased that we have been able to draw support from a wide range of celebrities. It makes a big difference if young people can relate to role models about being careful with their skin.”

Professor Chris Bunker, President-elect of the British Association of Dermatologists, said:
We hold a number of mole check roadshows and worryingly, 85 percent of people attending these have a mole that was of particular concern, yet two-thirds of them have not seen a doctor about the mole before. It seems that changes to our skin are not always something we feel deserves immediate attention. This demonstrates the need to take our messages out to a wider audience, and to engage the help of hair, beauty and well-being professionals, who are often well placed to notice something untoward on a person’s skin.”

Amanda Holden, actress, television presenter and safe sun education campaigner, has also expressed her support for the campaign:
“I spend a lot of time in hair and make-up, and if I had an unusual looking mole, I would want my hairdresser or make-up artist to know what to spot. I believe it is vital that we do everything we can to ensure that people recognise the signs of skin cancer. Well-being, hair and beauty professionals up and down the country can play their part by looking out for possible skin cancers and encouraging people to visit their doctors.”

Alongside the launch, the BAD will be running a Mole Check Clinic in Parliament to raise awareness of the condition amongst MPs and Peers after a recent ComRes survey, conducted for the Melanoma Taskforce, indicated that MPs say they are more knowledgeable about breast cancer, oral cancer and prostate cancer than they are about skin cancer, despite it being the UK’s most common cancer.



Notes to Editors

Mole and Skin Check Guidelines: Information on the signs of skin cancer for well-being, hair and beauty professionals
• The guidelines are available for download from the British Association of Dermatologists’ website at:

About the Melanoma Taskforce and the British Association of Dermatologists
• The Melanoma Taskforce is a panel of skin cancer experts brought together by Siân James MP, to look at how the prevention and treatment of skin cancer, and in particular melanoma, can be improved. The group comprises leading dermatologists, oncologists, nurses, surgeons and representatives from the National Cancer Action Team and the National Cancer Intelligence Network as well as patient groups, charities and professional bodies including Cancer Research UK, Teenage Cancer Trust, Skcin (The Karen Clifford Skin Cancer Charity), and the British Association of Dermatologists. The cost of administration of the Taskforce is funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb who hold no editorial control over the work of the group.
• The British Association of Dermatologists is the professional organisation for dermatologists in the UK. It provides free patient information on skin diseases and runs a number of high profile campaigns, including Sun Awareness and a skin cancer early detection campaign.

Endorsing Organisations
• The Melanoma Taskforce and the British Association of Dermatologists are delighted to have the support of nine leading industry bodies in the development and distribution of these guidelines. The endorsing organisations are: the British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology; the British Association of Skin Camouflage; the British Barbers’ Association; the Federation of Holistic Therapists; the Hairdressing and Beauty Industry Authority; the National Association of Screen Makeup Artists and Hairdressers; the Safe Beauty Association; SkillsActive; and the Hairdressing Council.

• The creation of guidelines to help well-being, hair and beauty professionals who come into contact with people’s skin to spot the signs of skin cancer was one of the key recommendations made to Government by the Melanoma Taskforce in its ‘2015 Skin Cancer Visions’ report. The recommendation called for: “Clear and targeted information for professionals that come into contact with people’s skin, including pharmacists, hairdressers, physiotherapists and swimming instructors.”

Skin Cancer Statistics
• According to figures published by Cancer Research UK in 2011:
o It is estimated that around 100,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the UK annually, making it the most common type of cancer;
o In 2008, more than 11,760 people in the UK were diagnosed with melanoma, which represents a quadrupling of the disease’s incidence since the 1970s;
o The majority of cases of skin cancer are preventable;
o The main cause of skin cancer is too much UK light from the sun or sunbeds;
o In 2008, over 2500 people in the UK died from skin cancer and there is evidence that this figure will continue to rise as young people who have experienced sun damage through over-exposure to the sun and sunbeds have an increased chance of developing skin cancer later on in life;
o Melanoma is now the second most common cancer in young adults, aged between 15 and 34, while almost one third of all cases occur in people under-50.

MP Awareness of Skin Cancer
• A survey of MPs conducted by ComRes for the Melanoma Taskforce indicated that concern about skin cancer is common within the House of Commons, with a majority of MPs (67%) either having been concerned themselves about a mole or having a family member who has been concerned.
• The survey indicated however, that there is considerable uncertainty among MPs about the incidence and mortality rates from skin cancer and more than two in five (41%) MPs admit that their knowledge of the disease is ‘limited’ or ‘non-existent’.
• ComRes surveyed 156 MPs by self-completion postal and online questionnaires between 6th and 24th May 2011. Data was weighted to reflect the exact composition of the House of Commons. 

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