Watford hospital's top cancer nurse has urged people to stay safe in the sun as the summer heatwave continues.

Michelle Sorley, West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust’s lead nurse for cancer, warned hot weather often sees an increase in the number of people suffering from sunburn, heat exhaustion and dehydration.

She said too much exposure to the sun can also lead to skin cancers which are caused by damage from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.

This may be the result of long term exposure, or short periods of intense sun and burning.

Fair skinned people who go red or freckle in the sun need to be particularly vigilant.  

Staff from the Macmillan Cancer Support information and support centre at Watford Hospital have been offering information and advice to patients, visitors and staff this week about skin cancer and sun safety.  

Ms Sorley said: "Skin cancer, if caught early, is very treatable and actually has one of the highest survival rates of all cancers. That’s why being aware of the signs and symptoms is so important.

"It’s important that people keep an eye on any moles or freckles they have. If they change at all you should see your GP as this can be an early sign of cancer."

She continued: "Whilst many of us like to enjoy the sun and hot weather, we should make sure we do it safely and remember certain groups of people are more vulnerable than others to the effects of heat or ultraviolet radiation.  

"Everyone can help protect themselves in the sun by taking care of their skin. Our advice is to wear a high SPF sun screen with a four star rating or more so it will block out UVA as well as UVB rays.

"You should also spend time in the shade when the sun is at its strongest, usually between 11am and 3pm, and cover up - wear clothes that protect you from the sun, including a hat and sunglasses."

For more information on staying safe in the sun visit the Macmillan Cancer Support website: www.macmillan.org.uk.  Alternatively, visit NHS Choices: www.nhs.uk.

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