March is the time to spot the signs
 
New Zealand has the highest incidence rate of melanoma in the world, with more than 300 people in New Zealand being affected by melanoma each year.
 
This March, the Melanoma Foundation of New Zealand is kicking off its annual Melanoma March awareness campaign with a call-to-action to ‘Stay alive: detect and survive.’
The campaign is a bid to drive home the importance of early detection – catching melanomas in the early stages while they are easily treatable.
Linda Flay, CEO of the Melanoma Foundation of New Zealand, says it’s never too early to start checking your skin.
“Look out for moles that seem to be changing, are irregular in size, or are a funny colour.
“If you notice anything new, changing or different on your skin, get it checked out by your GP or a skin specialist,” says Linda. “Spot the signs, because spotting the signs early could save your life.”
Melanoma can affect anyone, and so the year’s Melanoma March campaign hopes to get the message through to not only men, but also to the younger generation.
“While you’re more at risk if you’re over 50, with 70 per cent of melanoma cases occurring in people over 50 years old, younger people still do get affected,’ says Linda. “Kiwi youth need to start checking their skin on a regular basis.”
 
Simon Craigie, 51, a former ski instructor, and currently undergoing treatment for severe melanoma, says if he had been more aware of melanoma during his youth, he wouldn’t be suffering the way he is today. “During my days as a young ski instructor, I didn’t take much note of protecting myself from the sun – if I had, today I wouldn’t be facing the multiple operations, scars and uncertainty around my future.”
“If you notice any change, big or small, don’t ignore it – go see a good doctor,” says Simon.
This year the Melanoma Foundation is supported by some key events such as the East Coast Bays Rotary Charity Regatta, melanoma survivor Jeremy Burfoot’s inaugural Ski-nZ event from Tauranga all the way to Russell on a personal watercraft, and a ‘Shady hat walk’ around the Mount, organised by the Tauranga Melanoma Friends Group.
For more information on Melanoma March and the work of the Melanoma Foundation, visitwww.melanoma.org.nz.

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