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May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, a time to highlight the importance of protecting our skin and understanding the signs and symptoms of skin cancer.

Skin Cancer Awareness Month, also known as Melanoma Awareness Month is a yearly event that aims to raise awareness about the dangers of too much exposure to the sun and how to protect your skin. UV rays from the sun are one of the main causes of skin cancer, so it’s really important to educate people about how to protect themselves when spending time in the sun. Another aim of the event is to teach people how to check their skin for signs of melanoma, and to encourage people to do this regularly. This is important because skin cancer is very treatable when caught early!

Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells. The biggest cause of skin cancer is too much exposure to UV light from the sun or from sunbed use.

How to prevent skin cancer

Sun safety – Staying safe in the sun is the most effective way to protect against skin cancer. Dr Robert Sarkany, Consultant Dermatologist at The Lister Hospital, explains how to stay safe whilst enjoying the sunshine.

There are two main types of skin cancer:

  1. melanoma
  2. non-melanoma.

Non-melanoma skin cancers develop slowly in the upper layers of the skin and are not connected to moles. They are more common than melanoma but are not as likely to spread to other parts of the body. Most non-melanoma can be effectively treated and cured if detected early. 

The most common type of non-melanoma skin cancer in the UK is Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC). BCC grows very slowly and is very unlikely to spread to other parts of the body. Early diagnosis is still important as treatment is more difficult for BCC’s that have been there for a long time and can be more likely to grow back.

The second most common non-melanoma skin cancer in the UK is Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC). These cancers grow slowly but are more serious than a BCC because there is a small chance these cancers could spread to another part of the body. 

Non-melanoma skin cancers usually develop on skin that is exposed to the sun, such as the head and neck, but they can sometimes occur on areas of the skin not ordinarily exposed to sunlight. 

Their appearance can vary but they normally appear gradually and slowly increase in size. Some of the possible signs to look out for are:

  • A scab or sore that doesn’t heal
  • A crusty or scaly patch of skin that appears red or inflamed
  • A pearly, flesh-coloured lump that doesn’t go away and is growing in size 
  • A scabby lump on the skin that keeps getting bigger 
  • A growth with a pearly rim that surrounds a central crater 

If you notice any changes to your skin, even if they are not included on this list, please make sure you speak to your GP.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that develops when cells called melanocytes grow more quickly than usual. While it is less common than non-melanoma, it does have the ability to spread deeper into the skin, and to other organs, if it is not treated at an early stage.

Melanoma can develop anywhere on the body but is more common in areas that are exposed to the sun. It can present in many different shapes, sizes and colours but the most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole, a change to an existing mole or freckle or a change in appearance to a normal patch of skin.

• In most cases, melanomas have an irregular shape and have more than one colour
• The mole may also be larger than normal and can sometimes bleed or get itchy
• Look out for a mole that gradually changes shape, size or colour

If you notice any changes to your skin, even if they are not included on this list, please make sure you speak to your GP. All of the above details and more can be found on the HCA Healthcare website.

The Skin Cancer Foundation run campaigns every Skin Cancer Awareness month. This includes online campaigns such as ‘#SharetheFacts’ which encourages people to download a pack of images with helpful information, facts and figures about skin cancer and how to detect it. 

Source: HCA Healthcare, Twinkle Skin Cancer Foundation

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RARE DISEASE DAY – 28th February -Raising awareness and generating change for the three hundred million people worldwide living with a rare disease, their families, and corers.

Rare Disease Day is the official international awareness-raising campaign for rare diseases which takes place on the last day of February each year. The main objective of the campaign is to raise awareness amongst the public and decision-makers about rare diseases and their impact on patients’ lives.

Rare Disease Day was launched by EURORDISRare Diseases Europe and its Council of National Alliances in 2008.

There are over three hundred million people worldwide living with a rare disease. Together across borders, and across the 6000+ rare diseases we work towards more equitable access to diagnosis, treatment, care, and social opportunity.

Their key message for Rare Disease Day 2022 is to SHARE YOUR COLOURS!

Find out lots more on the Rare Disease website.

Be part of Rare Disease Day by sharing your story with others and sending a message of solidarity!

1 in 20 people will live with a rare disease at some point in their life. Read the articles below for strategies that address the needs of those living with rare diseases.

Content Development for Newborn Screening Clearinghouse: To increase awareness, knowledge, and understanding of newborn screening and genetic conditions, NICHQ partnered with Genetic Alliance to develop, revise and deliver general, state-specific and condition-specific newborn screening websites content.

Improving Care for Children with Special Healthcare Needs: NICHQ is leading a learning and action network (LAN) for seven SNAQ teams to support a high-quality system of care in Florida that serves all children and youth with special healthcare needs, regardless of insurance status and location.

Improving Sickle Cell Disease Care – Hemoglobinopathies Coordinating Center: NICHQ, with partner organization Abt Associates, is supporting a Hemoglobinopathies National Coordinating Center (NCC) to help SCD treatment demonstration program grantees — including community and federally qualified health centres — address structural and systemic barriers in their regions and implement evidence-based SCD care.

Source: Rare Disease Day, NICHQ

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PROSTATE CANCER AWARENESS MONTH – 1st – 31st March – Join their community of walkers, runners, and cyclists for one of Prostate Cancer UK’s month-long challenges taking place throughout the year. March the Month is a virtual step challenge for anyone who wants to keep active and help beat prostate cancer. Whether you’re walking or wheeling, take on 11,000 steps a day throughout March. You’ll be doing it for more than 11,000 dads, partners, brothers, grandads and mates who die from prostate cancer every year. Whatever fundraising you have in mind (or don’t), Prostate Cancer UK is there to help, ideas, hints, tips, downloads and more. 1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer. If you’re over 50, or you’re black, or your dad or brother had it, you’re at even higher risk. Prostate cancer is not always life-threatening. But when it is, the earlier you catch it the more likely it is to be cured.

OVARIAN CANCER AWARENESS MONTH – 1st – 31st March – This March Ovarian Cancer UK are putting ovarian cancer in the spotlight, and we need your help. Find out how you can get involved. Each year 7,400 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the UK. Here you can find out what ovarian cancer is, including the different typesstages and grades. This section on the website also covers the symptoms, the risk of developing ovarian cancerguidance for talking to your GP and what tests to expect if you’re experiencing symptoms. You can also find out more about different treatment options depending on your situation. There’s also information on what clinical trials are and how they work. You can discover what clinical trials are taking place across the UK, and search for trials by location, treatment stage and the stage of the trial. Transform the future of ovarian cancer diagnosis, treatment, and support by signing their pledge, and they will keep you updated on their work and how you can help. Let’s work together to save lives.  11 people die from ovarian cancer every day. Will you step up to the 11,000 Steps a Day challenge this March and raise money for ovarian cancer? All you need is a smartphone to track your 11,000 steps each day and some friends to chat with as you walk! Sign up here. This Mother’s Day (27 March) run for someone you remember, for someone you know or for future generations affected by ovarian cancer. Take on a 5k, 10k or stretch yourself to a half marathon in London’s Hyde Park.  Sign up here There are lots more ways to get involved and sign up to raise money for Ovarian Cancer including baking, cycling, holding your own fundraising event, connecting with others, and remembering loved ones. Just head over to the Ovarian Cancer website.

BRAIN AWARENESS WEEK – 14th – 20th  March – Brain Awareness Week is the global campaign to foster public enthusiasm and support for brain science. Every March, partners host imaginative activities in their communities that share the wonders of the brain and the impact brain science has on our everyday lives. Brain Awareness Week was founded by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives (DABI) and the European Dana Alliance for the Brain (EDAB), and is coordinated by the Dana Foundation. The next Brain Awareness Week will take place from March 14-20, 2022. We invite your organization or institution to get involved! Visit Become a Partner to learn more.

Brain Awareness Week began in 1996 as a modest effort involving just 160 organizations in the United States. DABI organized the first Brain Awareness Week to bring together diverse groups with different interests from academia, government, and professional and advocacy organizations. The goal was to unite them with the common theme that brain research is the hope for treatments, preventions, and possible cures for brain diseases and disorders and to ensure a better quality of life at all ages. In the 26 years since its founding, Brain Awareness Week has evolved into a global education initiative that has included the participation of more than 7,300 partners in 120 countries. During the 2021 campaign, partner events were held in 45 countries and 32 states.

Brain Awareness Week partners include colleges and universities, hospitals, medical research facilities, K-12 schools, advocacy groups, outreach organizations, professional associations, government agencies, corporations, and more. View the Partner List to see who’s involved, and visit Become a Partner to register. Partners bring to the campaign their own unique perspectives and messages about the brain: an interest in a specific disease or disorder; a concern for early childhood development; a focus on successful ageing; or a concern for the future of medical research funding. As a collaborative effort, Brain Awareness Week offers its partners an opportunity to focus national and international attention on these Brain Awareness Week events that are limited only by the organizers’ imaginations! Some popular events include lectures, symposia, and panel discussions; lab tours and open houses at neuroscience laboratories; brain fairs with hands-on activities, games, and experiments; programs at K-12 schools; museum exhibitions about the brain; displays at malls, libraries, and community centres; art and literature competitions; concerts and theatrical performances; and social media campaigns. For more ideas, visit Suggested Activities for Brain Awareness Week, or search the Calendar of Events and Partner Reports. specific messages within the broader context of our shared interest in brain science. Head to the Brain Awareness Website for more details.

NO SMOKING DAY – 9th March – No Smoking Day is an annual health awareness day in the United Kingdom that is intended to help smokers who want to quit smoking. The first No Smoking Day was on Ash Wednesday in 1984, and it now takes place on the second Wednesday in March. There are always health and financial benefits to quitting smoking, but quitting now will help you:

  1. Reduce the likelihood of life-threatening complications from COVID-19. Smoking damages your lungs, and your heart, which can put you at greater risk of life-threatening complications if you get COVID-19.

2. Reduce your risk of other diseases caused by smoking such as cancer, diabetes, heart attack, emphysema, bronchitis and stroke. Quitting will improve your health, and help protect the NHS.

3. Stopping smoking allows your body to repair itself – after 8 hours oxygen levels return to normal, after 2 days, your lungs start clearing out smoking debris, after 3 days breathing becomes easier and within weeks, your heart attack risk begins to drop. Watch this film which explains all the benefits of quitting.

4. Protect the health of others. Exposure to secondhand smoke also increases the risk of complications from respiratory infections, especially in children. It also increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes and cancer. During this time, when we are spending most of our time at home, it’s important to protect others from tobacco smoke. See also guidance for smokers and vapers from Public Health England.

For more help and support head to the, Today is the Day website.

WORLD SLEEP DAY – 19th March – World Sleep Day is an annual event, intended to be a celebration of sleep and a call to action on important issues related to sleep, including medicine, education, social aspects and driving. It is organized by the World Sleep Day Committee of the World Sleep Society and aims to lessen the burden of sleep problems on society through better prevention and management of sleep disorders. World Sleep Day is held the Friday before Spring Vernal Equinox of each year. Future dates will be Friday, March 18, 2022, and Friday, March 17, 2023.

Well over 200 activities were organized by volunteers worldwide for World Sleep Day 2021. Help us to advocate and raise awareness for sleep health again this year by organizing a World Sleep Day activity in your local community. You’ll join a group of thousands of other World Sleep Day Delegates who amplify the benefits of healthy sleep for millions of people worldwide. Working together, our message continues to grow each year!

For World Sleep Day 2022, our theme and slogan are Quality Sleep, Sound Mind, Happy World. How does quality sleep help maintain mental health? How might better sleep help people focus during the day? Or how might fatigue weigh us down physically, mentally, and emotionally? Help us share the importance of quality sleep for these reasons and for all of the other many reasons that sleep is a foundational pillar of human health.

Organize an activity and let us know about it! Submit your activity, and we will post it on the official World Sleep Day website.

WORLD ORAL HEALTH DAY – 20th March – World Oral Health Day aims to empower people with the knowledge, tools and confidence to secure good oral health. Oral diseases are a major health concern for many countries and negatively impact people throughout their lives. Oral diseases lead to pain and discomfort, social isolation and loss of self-confidence, and they are often linked to other serious health issues. And yet, there is no reason to suffer: most oral health conditions are largely preventable and can be treated in their early stages.  World Oral Health Day is targeted to…

•    individuals to take personal action
•    schools and youth groups to deliver learning activities about oral health
•    oral health professionals and the wider healthcare community to educate the populations they serve
•    governments and policymakers to champion better oral health for all.

FDI relies on individual action worldwide to roll out World Oral Health Day in each country and create a truly global movement. We encourage you to use your local expertise to create awareness and roll out WOHD in your community. Whatever you decide to do, however big or small, contributes to improving the oral health of populations globally. World Oral Health Day is an initiative of FDI World Dental Federation; an organization that brings together the world of dentistry with the aim of achieving optimal oral health for everyone. Celebrate #WorldOralHealthDay this 20 March and be part of the global movement #MouthProud #WOHD22 Inspire change by focusing on the importance of oral health for your happiness and well-being, because good oral health has a positive impact on your general health, well-being and quality of life. And that is something worth taking action for. 

Source: Ovarian Cancer, Brain Awareness Today Is The Day Prostate Cancer World Oral Health Day