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Let's Get To 100% Together

A new campaign from Breakthrough Cancer Research is striving to achieve 100% survival from 100% of skin cancers. 

We are calling on people to do everything they can to protect themselves properly from UV, while we continue to work on new treatments. 

We are asking people to increase their UV awareness, be SunSmart and not to 'skip bits' when applying sunscreen.

And we are green lighting an exciting new skin cancer treatment which replaces chemo with calcium and with public support could be available in November.




Do You Suffer from Man Tan?


Patch tanning shows where your skin has been put at risk, so it’s never a good look.

Ireland has one of the highest mortality rates for melanoma in Europe  - outdoor workers and outdoor sports people are in a high risk group  - 25% of those diagnosed with melanoma are outdoor workers.
In addition, men are more likely to die from melanoma than women so we need to reach as many of them as possible!

Today we release a series of films that take a light-hearted look at a deadly serious subject.

On the areas of skin you can't cover up or keep in the shade, please be sure to apply your high factor SPF carefully, so you're 100% covered.
Share or tag someone you know who needs to hear this so we can get the message to them!

The only safe tan is a fake tan.
Don’t skip a bit where you apply your sunscreen.
Let's #makemoresurviors Let's get to #100percenttogether #SunSmart

Ultraviolet Radiation (UV) is the main risk factor for skin cancers.  Too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation can damage the genetic material (DNA) in your skin cells and cause skin cancer.  The sun naturally gives out UV, whilst the UV from sunbeds is artificial.

UV radiation is divided by wavelength into 3 types: UVA, UVB and UVC.

UVC has the shortest wavelength and is the most powerful and potentially harmful; but UVC rays are absorbed in the ozone and don’t make it to the surface of the planet in large enough doses to have an impact on our skin.

UVA and UVB are a different story, though. Both make it through the atmosphere intact, and both can be harmful to your skin, including increasing your risk of developing skin cancer.

Both types can cause skin cancer:

  • UVB is responsible for the majority of sunburns.
  • UVA penetrates deep into the skin. It ages the skin but contributes much less towards sunburn.

You can’t feel UV rays – the heat from the sun comes from infrared rays, which can’t burn you. This is why people can still burn on cool days.

The UV Index is a scale that was developed by the World Health Organisation and measures the level of UV from the sun at the surface, the higher the UV index the greater the risk of skin damage. When the UV index is 3 or above you need to protect your skin.


In our recent survey many were unaware that UV radiation, which is omitted naturally from the sun and is the main risk factor for skin cancers, is not related to heat and can even penetrate through cloud. 72% did not know the UV index at which they should wear sunscreen


We are delighted to give the green light to an exciting new skin cancer research project this July.  The novel treatment for skin cancers uses a technique called Electroporation in combination with calcium replacing of the existing combination of this technology with chemotherapy that has been available in Cork since the early 2000s. It is hoped that this new treatment could be available for patients in a clinical trial as early as November. 

This builds on the many years supporters of Breakthrough Cancer Research have helped fund research on the use of Electrochemotherapy to treat skin cancers including Basal Cell Carcinomas (BCCs), Squamous Cell Carcinomas (SCCs) & Melanoma.

Electrochemotherapy (ECT) is a localised treatment technique where cells are temporarily permeabilized after exposure to a brief electrical pulse and combined with low dose chemotherapy to ablate malignancies. It is a technique causing minimal damage to the surrounding healthy tissue and has the potential to avoid the need for complex reconstruction. The role of ECT as a primary treatment modality is still being investigated but it is an established treatment for skin metastases.


In one Breakthrough Cancer Research funded randomised controlled trial investigating whether Electrochemotherapy could be effectively used as a primary treatment for Basal Cell carcinoma (BCC), the most common skin cancer. Patients were followed for 5 years. In the ECT group, 86% had complete response at 60 days. 11% had a second treatment following which 100% complete response was observed and did not return after 5 years of follow up.

The authors, led by surgeon, Mr Jim Clover, concluded that this study, the first randomised controlled trial of its kind, confirmed that ECT is an effect treatment for BCC, with good long term treatment response.

The complete study is available at the following link:

There is a need to continue to expand the therapeutic toolbox to increase more effective and less invasive treatment options for patients that are unsuitable for or unwilling to undergo the current therapies.

Electrochemotherapy is a targeted treatment, which reduces the use of toxic chemotherapy drugs to a minimal level. It is now hoped to continue this research using Calcium electroporation as a novel anti-cancer treatment where lethally high calcium concentrations are introduced into the cancer cells by electroporation. The usage of calcium instead of chemotherapeutic drugs presents several potential advantages including no damage to the surrounding tissue, long durability, medical professionals other than oncologists can administer it, and once electrodes and electroporator are in place, it is inexpensive.

This research will build on research with collaborators in Denmark who have been looking at the use of electroporation delivered in an outpatient setting with local anaesthetic and in combination with calcium. They have been also investigating the immune engagement resulting from electroporation and calcium treatment.

Too much UV radiation from the sun or sunbeds can damage the genetic material (the DNA) in your skin cells. If enough DNA damage builds up over time, it can cause cells to start growing out of control, which can lead to skin cancer. Anyone can develop skin cancer, but some people can have a higher risk. 

A person’s natural skin colour influences their risk of skin cancer and people with fair skin, like most Irish people, are particularly vulnerable.

It’s really important to remember that skin damage doesn’t just happen on holiday or in hot, sunny places. The sun is often strong enough to cause damage in the Ireland, even when it’s cloudy.

Exposure to UV radiation is particularly harmful during childhood. Children and young people are particularly vulnerable. Severe sunburn during childhood (3 or more instances before the age of 20) is associated with a 2-4 times higher risk of developing melanoma in later life.

In our recent survey, significantly more respondents who had a skin cancer diagnosis reported getting sunburnt every summer as a child compared to those who have never had a skin cancer (48.1% v 26.4%), which aligns with research findings showing severe sunburn in childhood is associated with a 2-4 times higher risk of developing melanoma in later life.

To minimise this risk, skin protection during childhood is extremely important. You can lower your risk by adopting skin protective behaviours such as the five S's below. 

Using UV technology, our video above is highlighting the hard to reach and often missed areas that result in patch burning, such as the back of the neck, ‘widows peak’, tip of the nose, ears and the lower legs. 

In our recent survey 93% of adults have burnt in the sun, while 73% got patch burned despite applying sunscreen.  72% do not know the UV index at which they should wear sunscreen. Only 34% wear sunscreen on their face every day, 48% when it is sunny, with just 0.1% wearing it when cloudy.  Only two thirds (66%) of adults wear sunscreen on their body when it is sunny. Other healthy sun behaviours were also low; with only 13% always wearing a hat when it is sunny, 25% always wearing sunglasses, and 15% always seeking shade when sunny.

Remember that sunscreen should be the last line of defence against skin cancer, as SunSmart behaviour starts with staying in the shade, covering up, and wearing sunglasses and hats.


Finding melanoma at an early stage is critical; early detection can vastly increase your chances for survival.

Look for anything new, changing or unusual on both sun-exposed and sun-protected areas of the body. Melanomas most commonly appear on the legs of women, and the number one place they develop on men is the trunk. However, melanomas can arise anywhere on the skin, even in areas where the sun doesn’t shine, like between the toes,  under nails, soles of feet etc.

Most moles, brown spots and growths on the skin are harmless – but not always. The ABCDEs can help you detect melanoma.  The first five letters of the alphabet are a guide to help you recognize the warning signs of melanoma.

A is for Asymmetry. Most melanomas are asymmetrical. If you draw a line through the middle of the lesion, the two halves don’t match, so it looks different from a round to oval and symmetrical common mole.

B is for Border. Melanoma borders tend to be uneven and may have scalloped or notched edges, while common moles tend to have smoother, more even borders.

C is for Colour. Multiple colours are a warning sign. While benign moles are usually a single shade of brown, a melanoma may have different shades of brown, tan or black. As it grows, the colours red, white or blue may also appear.

D is for Diameter or Dark. While it’s ideal to detect a melanoma when it is small, it’s a warning sign if a lesion is the size of a pencil eraser (about 6 mm in diameter) or larger. Some experts say it is also important to look for any lesion, no matter what size, that is darker than others.

E is for Evolving. Any change in size, shape, colour or elevation of a spot on your skin, or any new symptom in it, such as bleeding, itching or crusting, may be a warning sign of melanoma.

If you notice these warning signs, or anything new, changing or unusual on your skin contact your GP quickly.


In our recent survey  40% reported that there are areas of their skin that they are worried about, yet less than half of those (45%) have sought medical advice.


Children and young people are particularly vulnerable to UV exposure. Children have lower concentrations of the protective skin pigment melanin and thinner skin, therefore are more susceptible to the dangers of UV. Severe sunburn during childhood (>3 instances before the age of 20) is associated with a 2-4 times higher risk of developing melanoma in later life.


Turning pink? Unprotected skin can be damaged by the sun’s UV rays in as little as 15 minutes. Yet it can take up to 12 hours for skin to show the full effect of sun exposure. So, if your child’s skin looks “a little pink” today, it may be burned tomorrow morning. To prevent further burning, get your child out of the sun.

Tan? There’s no other way to say it—tanned skin is damaged skin. Any change in the colour of your child’s skin after time outside—whether sunburn or suntan—indicates damage from UV rays.

Cool and cloudy? Children still need protection. UV rays, not the temperature, do the damage. Clouds do not block UV rays, they filter them—and sometimes only slightly.

Plan Ahead: Kids often get sunburned when they are outdoors unprotected for longer than expected. Remember to plan ahead, and keep sun protection handy—in your car, bag, or child’s backpack. So be SunSmart but remember sunscreen is your last line of defence.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Ireland but it also the most preventable.  Currently, more than 11,000 people are diagnosed with the disease every year and cases have doubled in the last 10 years.  Skin cancer is divided into two types, non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) and melanoma.

Non-melanoma skin cancers are the most common and include basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas.  They are less aggressive cancers which progress slowly over months or years and have very high survival rates.

Melanomas are diagnosed less often but still more than 1,000 times a year.  This is a more invasive cancer and is much more likely to spread to other parts of the body.  Survivals rates depend on the stage of disease at diagnosis and it can be fatal.  Ireland has the lowest survival rates for melanoma in Europe.

To achieve 100% survival we need better UV awareness and protection and more skin cancer treatments.

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