This type of cancer is more likely to go undetected over winter

Jennifer Savin
·2 min read
Photo credit: Yuri Arcurs - Getty Images
Photo credit: Yuri Arcurs - Getty Images

From Cosmopolitan

It's well and truly winter, isn't it folks? With the temperature dropping and it suddenly turning dark at 4pm, we're all digging into the back of our wardrobes for chunky knitwear and layering up. But this change in season (and wardrobe) has one doctor speaking out in the hopes of warning people to remain vigilant with keeping up their health checks. Namely, because there's one cancer more likely to be missed, as people are less inclined to keep their eyes peeled for it during winter.

“Typically we notice a larger proportion of skin cancer in the spring and summer when our moles are exposed, but we still do have many cases in the winter," says Dr Adam Friedmann, leading dermatologist at Stratum Clinics, who specialise in all things skin. "We’ve seen a number of patients so far this winter who've been diagnosed with skin cancer and this is often a knock on effect of not being sun savvy during the warmer months." So, just because it's time to swaddle yourself in a scarf 24/7, it's still super important to still check for any unusual looking moles.

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"Damage to moles can be gradual and doesn’t always happen instantly after sun exposure, so it’s during the long winter that changes to moles may go unnoticed, because we’re all wrapped up in layers," he explains.

Photo credit: AntonioGuillem
Photo credit: AntonioGuillem

According to the latest figures from Cancer Research UK, melanoma skin cancer incidence rates have increased by more than a third (35%) for women since 2004, possibly due to a rise in travel abroad.

The simple solution? “I recommend doing a quick winter self-assessment in front of the mirror, after a shower, wherein you take a look at all the skin and thoroughly search for anything new or different," says Dr Friedmann. "Look for anything that stands out from the other moles, changing in size shape or colour. In short, anything that looks markedly different."

He advises doing your check at the beginning of the month, then again six and twelve weeks later if you believe you're high risk. If not, then once or twice over the winter is fine. While it's one of the most common cancers in the world, if caught early skin cancer is easily treatable – so it's time to set that phone reminder and keep doing those incredibly vital checks, all year round.

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Watch: What's allowed during the festive season?

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