The Skin Cancer Foundation of South Africa (SCFSA) was launched on 16 September 2013 and aims to increase skin cancer awareness and prevention in the country.

Skin cancer is South Africa’s most common form of cancer, with about 20 000 reported cases and 700 deaths every year. South Africa has the second highest incidence of skin cancer in the world after Australia.

Despite this, founder and dermatologist Dr Marc Roscher said skin cancer is a highly preventable lifestyle disease that is not getting the attention it deserves. Contrary to what many people believe, a tan or dark complexion does not protect you from developing skin cancer or damage due to the sun, he warned.

“Everyone needs protection from the sun’s rays, which cause sunburn, skin cancer and ageing,” he said in a statement. “There is no such thing as a safe tan.”

Children are particularly vulnerable to the sun’s damaging effects, he added.

“Just a few serious sunburns in early childhood can increase the risk of skin cancer later in life,” Roscher said. “Apart from a good sun block, children should always wear hats and specially designed swimwear, which will cover their tender skins.”

The SCFSA is hoping to become a resource for health care professionals and patients alike by not only providing clinicians with up-to-date information and educational materials, but also holding annual national skin cancer screening days.

Facilitated by dermatologists, screening days will help people identify what skin cancers look like on their skin as well as that of their families. Annual screening drives will be accompanied by efforts to increase data on skin cancer in South Africa. – Health-e News Service.