South Africa’s dermatologists get behind the National Skin Cancer Screening Day

It’s all systems go for first ever national skin cancer screening day on 1 September 2014

25 April 2014 South Africa’s (SA’s) dermatologists are yielding to a clarion call to participate in the country’s first ever, national skin cancer screening day which will take place on the first day of spring, Monday, 1 September 2014.

According to Dr Derek Odendaal, President of the South African Society for Dermatological Surgery and one of the founder members of the Skin Cancer Foundation of South Africa (SCFSA) the response from dermatologists to this call to action has been positive so far.

“This is all the more laudable given the fact that there are, according to the South African Society for Dermatological Surgery, South Africa only 167 practising dermatologists in South Africa, of which 110 are exclusively in private practice,” he comments.

“To compound this situation further, SA has the second highest incidence of skin cancer in the world. Because of the tremendous shortage of dermatologists as much as 79 percent of the population, who are unable to afford private care, have been left totally exposed.”

“National Skin Cancer Screening Day, is SCFSA’s way of mobilising each and every dermatologist in the country so that we can reach as many South Africans as possible – particularly those who would ordinarily not be afforded the opportunity of being screened for skin cancer.”

“It is our aim to raise public awareness through the sharing of information that will assist in the prevention, early detection and treatment of skin cancer. To do this, we as dermatologists are pooling our resources to work together to help raise awareness of the dangers associated with excessive exposure to the sun. We also wish to encourage early detection for the scourge of skin cancer in our country,” asserts Dr Odendaal.

As part of this initiative the SCFSA, which was launched in September last year, has called on all South African dermatologists to take part in a National Skin Cancer Screening Day. They are also calling on the public to get themselves screened and to become sun savvy.

“We have appealed to all dermatologists to make themselves and their resources available to screen 20 patients as part of a special half-day session on a pro bono basis. These screenings are not mole-mapping procedures but will specifically guide patients and inform patients what to look out for. We will also teach them how to inspect themselves and their families for early signs of skin cancer while sharing the best prevention methods with them,” explains Dr Odendaal.

National Screening Day will be supported by an awareness campaign leading up to the event. The campaign will also reflect on the activities of the day. The names and contact details of participating dermatologists will be published in the media as well as on the SCFSA and the South African Society for Dermatological Surgery websites so that members of the public who would like to avail themselves of the free skin cancer screening opportunity will be able to set up appointments well in advance.

The SCFSA will provide dermatologists with skin cancer screening protocols and the necessary paperwork in order to standardise the screenings. All information obtained during the screenings will be collated and passed onto the SCFSA for analysis. Information will be shared as part of a post-screening campaign.

International skin care company, Beiersdorf has also added its voice to the campaign. According to Michelle Armstrong, Marketing Manager of Beiersdorf it is imperative that children are encouraged to become sun-savvy at an early age. “One of the most effective ways of doing this is for parents to ensure that their children are protected from the sun early on in life and encourage their children to learn sun safety habits. For example, sunscreen should be applied as routinely as brushing their teeth.”

“SCFSA is also supporting a start-up campaign to introduce sunscreen into schools,” says Armstrong.  “The project, known, as BE SUN SAFE, is an initiative of NIVEA Sun and SunSavvy and is being rolled out in KwaZulu-Natal in 2014.  As part of the project, serviced sunscreen dispensers have been installed at registered Sun Safe schools to ensure that children have instant access to sunscreen and can apply it regularly throughout the day.”

Armstrong says there is no better place for children to learn about sun safety habits than within the school environment.  “To add further impetus to the project it is backed up by a fun-filled school educational programme which is aimed at educating children on the importance of sun safety,” she adds.

Commenting on the objectives of National Skin Cancer Screening Day, co-founder and specialist dermatological and laser surgeon, Dr Marc Roscher, said that with skin cancer growing at such a disturbing rate, the SCFSA is asking members of the public to participate in this important, potentially life-saving initiative.

“We call on dermatologists to please help us combat skin cancer by giving a little bit of their time towards this worthy cause. By merely giving up half of your day to screen 20 patients, you will help raise awareness about this highly preventable but vastly misunderstood disease,” says Dr. Roscher.

Dermatologists wanting to participate in this pioneering initiative are invited to contact info@skincancerfoundation.org.za. In addition – visiting representatives will collate the names of participating dermatologist and effect placement on the website.

Notes to editors

Vision and mission of the South African Skin Cancer Foundation: Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers worldwide, and this is no different in South Africa. To address the growing incidence of skin cancer in this country, the South African Skin Cancer Foundation (SCFSA) was created with the aim of implementing a National Skin Cancer Screening Day, which will be held in September every year. Facilitating these events and projects requires special skill and insight, which the SCF will provide.

It is anticipated that this campaign will be run on a national basis. With the aid of extensive media coverage it is our aim to educate and inform the public of South Africa about the dangers of skin cancer and how to avoid it. It is also the role of the foundation to assimilate and distribute information about skin cancer and its symptoms to the lay public, press and medical professionals. A lack of data about skin cancer in South Africa is a pressing concern, and would also form a key component of the SCFSA and its activities.

The foundation has resolved to operate in a manner similar to SCFs in other parts of the world, and to interact and cooperate with any groups, individuals and societies that share our vision and can benefit from or contribute to the work that is being done.

Ends

 

Issued by    : Martina Nicholson Associates (MNA) on behalf of the Skin Cancer Foundation of South Africa (SCFSA)
Contact       : Martina Nicholson, Sarah Beswick, Jillian Penaluna or Graeme Swinney
Telephone   : (011) 469 3016
Email          : martina@mnapr.co.zasarah@mnapr.co.zajillian@mnapr.co.za or graeme@mnapr.co.za

 

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