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Let's Get to 100% Together - New Awareness Campaign and Novel Treatment for Skin Cancer

Posted on: 01 Jul 2020

Let's Get to 100% Together -  New Awareness Campaign and Novel Treatment for Skin Cancer

~ Better UV protection and new treatments only way to
100% survival for all skin cancers, says Breakthrough Cancer Research
~

  • Cancer research charity urges SunSmart behaviour and better UV awareness in new campaign with Anna Geary and David Gillick that highlights the particular care needed for outdoorsy and sporty people.
  • Exciting new skin cancer treatment announced. 
  • Survey finds lack of sun care and UV awareness - 73% of Irish adults patch burn regularly. 72% do not know the UV index at which they should wear sunscreen.  Only 45% of people have sought medical advice for an area of skin they are worried about.

“Together, through better prevention and new treatments, we can achieve 100% survival,
so let’s get to 100% together.”

A new treatment for skin cancer replacing chemotherapy with calcium could be available later this year thanks to ground-breaking new research.

Breakthrough Cancer Research (Breakthrough) announced the news as they launched a national awareness campaign ‘Let’s get to 100% together’, which warns about the importance of protecting skin from UV damage 100% of the time.  In Ireland the number of skin cancer cases have doubled in the last decade and continue to rise.  We have the highest mortality rate from melanoma in Europe.

The charity is also highlighting the urgent need to raise funds for new treatment options, in a strive to achieve 100% survival from the disease.

Together with TV & radio broadcaster, Ireland’s Fittest Family coach, and former All- Ireland winning camogie captain Anna Geary and Olympian & well being advocate David Gillick, Breakthrough is stressing the particular importance of improving skin cancer prevention behaviours in sporty and outdoorsy people, who can be complacent, especially now as the country re-opens for staycations and people enjoy more time outdoors. 

Breakthrough is calling on people to increase their UV awareness and be vigilant when applying sunscreen, to ensure they achieve 100% coverage.  Using UV technology, the charity 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.

They have also stressed 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.

A national survey conducted by Breakthrough of 677 adults found some worrying results…

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

In addition to raising awareness about the need for 100% protection against UV, Breakthrough continues to fund pioneering research for innovative new treatments that help to improve the survival outcomes for those who have already been diagnosed.

The charity gave the green light to an exciting new skin cancer research project this week.  The novel chemo-free non surgical treatment for skin cancers uses calcium instead of chemotherapy and could be available for patients in a clinical trial, initially in Cork, as early as November.  The hope is that this non-toxic but highly effective treatment can be delivered to outpatients.  

However, the charity needs to raise €100k to continue to fund this new life-saving research, and are calling on donations from the public to help more people to survive sooner.  You can donate directly at breakthroughcancerresearch.ie.

Commenting on the campaign and new research, Orla Dolan, CEO of Breakthrough Cancer Research, said “We’re calling on the public to do everything they can to protect themselves properly, while we work on new treatments.”

“Our survey had some very worrying results about understanding around prevention and a lack of awareness about UV in Ireland.  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”, Orla continued. 

“Sunscreen should be your last line of defence – it’s important to stay out of the sun and cover up when outdoors particularly between 11-3 every day from April to September when the UV index is over 3.

“We have put some helpful tips on our website to help people become more SunSmart and UV aware.  Most of us know to use sunscreen to stay safe but it’s important not be careless.  73% do not get 100% coverage and patch burn, which is where the danger lies, so we are demonstrating the spots that people usually miss using UV light technology in our campaign.  We have seen some very nasty cases of basal cell carcinomas and melanoma in these missed areas, like the tip of the nose, the top of the ears, and the lower legs.  

“We are also putting a focus on the most at risk groups like sporty and outdoorsy people.  You might think you're being healthy when you're outdoors and being active but you're putting yourself in danger if you don't cover up and have sunscreen applied correctly.  Children and those with pale or fair skin and blue eyes are also high risk and need to take extra precaution.

“It has never been more important to stay safe while staying healthy.  Breakthrough is helping improve the survival outcomes for those already diagnosed. We’re working with an amazing team of scientists and clinicians, on ground-breaking new treatments for skin cancers as we strive for 100% survival for all cancers.

“We are very excited to give the green light to one project this week that will replace chemotherapy treatment with calcium, but we need help from the public to raise €100k to bring it to clinical trial later this year”.

“Together, through better prevention and new treatments, we can achieve 100% survival, so let’s get to 100% and €100k together”.

Mr James Clover, Consultant Plastic Surgeon & Clinical lead for Electrochemotherapy in University College Cork and Cork University Hospital, who is leading the research to move treatments to the next stage by replacing chemo with calcium, said,  “We have been extremely fortunate to have been able to offer patients electrochemotherapy, through the support of Breakthrough Cancer Research, here in Ireland for over 10 years now.  New treatments like these do not happen overnight and must go through a robust testing process to ensure it is both safe and effective before it ever reaches a patient. We are sincerely grateful for the support of the public and look forward to the next stages of this research, less invasive ways to help patients with a variety of skin cancers.”

TV & Radio Broadcaster and former All- Ireland winning Camogie Captain, Ireland’s Fittest Families coach, and ambassador for the campaign Anna Geary, who advocates for health and fitness, said, “Healthy & active people, who love the outdoors and sport, don’t often think about sickness affecting them, but it is critical that we all cover up and protect ourselves 100% of the time, as this is a disease that can affect anyone”.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Ireland with the highest mortality rate for melanoma in Europe.  Currently more than 11,000 people are diagnosed with the disease every year.  Most (91%) have non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC), which have an almost 100% 5 year survival rate, while more than 1000 people (9%) are diagnosed with the more invasive form, melanoma, which has a 90% 5 year survival rate overall.  However, this is less than 60% for those diagnosed with stage III and less than 20% for stage IV melanoma.  

Breakthrough is striving for 100% survival through better prevention and new treatments.  For more on how you can protect yourself and others, and to donate to the new life-changing treatment for skin cancer to help achieve 100% survival, go to:  www.breakthroughcancerresearch.ie/100percent #Letsmakemoresurvivors

ENDS:

About the UV Index

The UV index quantifies 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.

Electrochemotherapy and Calcium Electroporation

Electrochemotherapy (ECT) is a localised treatment which combines low-dose chemotherapy with an electrical pulse which temporarily permeabilised cells allowing the chemotherapy to enter cancer cells directly and ablate malignancies. It is a technique causing minimal damage to the surrounding healthy tissue.  Calcium electroporation is a novel anti-cancer treatment where lethally high calcium concentrations are introduced into the cancer cells by electroporation.

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