Pharmacist Damien Lancaster is conducting a Skin Cancer Awareness Clinic at the Discount Drug Store in Grafton Mall. Photo: LACHLAN THOMPSON
Pharmacist Damien Lancaster is conducting a Skin Cancer Awareness Clinic at the Discount Drug Store in Grafton Mall. Photo: LACHLAN THOMPSON

Pharmacy puts focus on skin

PHARMACIST Damien Lancaster has seen one of his colleagues suffer with skin cancer and consequently he was pleased to see his workplace take steps to highlight the disease.

The Discount Drug Store in the Grafton Mall will hold a sun awareness clinic to help people identify the damage that's already happened to their skin.

The clinic will include a 15-minute consultation with a nurse who will take a photo of the customer's face with a double-exposure camera to reveal how much UV damage has been done to their skin.

The customer is then informed of their results and risks and about harmful effects of the sun, including what ultraviolet (UV) rays are, the UV index, and how UV rays damage the skin.

Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, with approximately two in three Australians expected to be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70.

And while the Clarence Valley actually has the lowest instance of skin cancer on the North Coast, its statistics are still above the state average.

Mr Lancaster said because the pharmacist was often a more frequent port of call than the doctor, it was likely a lot of people at risk could be alerted by the screening. The clinic is part of pharmacy brand Discount Drug Stores' national sun and UV awareness campaign that aims to combat high skin cancer rates by generating greater community awareness of the risks and consequences of UV damage.

The community pharmacy brand's professional services manager, Casey Clark, said with Australians four times more likely to develop skin cancer than any other cancer, it was absolutely vital people knew about the dangers of UV exposure and how to prevent it.

"Australia has such a sun-loving, outdoor lifestyle, but we also have a shockingly high prevalence of skin cancers," she said. "These clinics will make people more aware by showing them just how little UV exposure it takes to do serious damage."

Despite skin cancer killing more than 2000 Australians every year, Ms Clark said many customers were surprised to learn it takes as little as five sun- burns to double their risk.

"We want to ensure that Australians can enjoy our climate without risking serious UV damage," Ms Clark said. "So in addition to assessing the condition of their skin and their risks, we're also providing them with an information booklet, a UV-level tester card and a sample of SPF50+ Actinica sunscreen."

Experts estimate there will be almost one million skin cancer treatments a year by 2015. Discount Drug Stores hopes that arming Australians with knowledge and resources will help reduce that number.

Grafton Discount Drug Store's sun & UV cancer awareness clinic will be held on October 25 from 10am to 3pm.

Factobox- Skin Cancer in the Valley

Between 2004-2008 188 people were diagnosed with melanoma.

This compares to 260 cases over the same period, in Ballina.

And 466 in the Tweed.



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