As part of its 2022 SunSmart health awareness campaign, the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) is hosting free FotoFinder and skin examinations, sponsored by Novartis, in: Roodepoort – 13 January, Vredendal – 17 January, Springbok – 21 and 22 January, Rustenburg – 27 January and Nelspruit – 27 January. Appointments can be booked through CANSA Care Centres or directly with CANSA Service Coordinators in the various regions.
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Lorraine Govender, CANSA’s National Manager for Health promotion, explains, “We offer FotoFinder skin screenings at most CANSA Care Centres around South Africa. FotoFinder screening is an ‘all-in-one’ skin cancer screening and mole mapping, using a dermascope device, the imaging system of choice by thousands of dermatologists worldwide. The system automatically links digital dermoscopic images of moles to an overview image, making the identification and tracking of lesions easy. Should any abnormalities be picked up, a referral will be made to a dermatologist.”
Dr Gary Sopher, Medical Director, Novartis South Africa (Oncology) adds, “Cancer screening is such a vital aspect of healthcare. Early diagnosis improves cancer outcomes by providing care at the earliest possible stage and therefore an important public health strategy.”
Following The World Cancer Research Fund, skin cancer is the most common cancer worldwide. South Africa’s beautiful, but harsh, climate leads to having one of the highest monitored ultraviolet (UV) levels in the world, resulting in one of the top occurrences of skin cancer globally. And although people with blonde or red head hair with light skin, freckles and green or blue eyes are more at risk for sunburn and skin damage, it’s important to remember that everyone, regardless of their ethnic group, is at risk of getting skin cancer.
CANSA recommends using sun protection gear, such as sunscreens, UV-protective garments and apparel, bearing the CANSA Smart Choice Seal under CANSA’s Seal of Recognition programme, as part of your regime to stay safe while out in the sun.
Sunscreens that carry the CANSA Smart Choice Seal have been verified by approved independent testing laboratories and are deemed safe to use and as effective protection against harmful damage caused by the sun. CANSA further cautions that using sunscreen is not the only one way in which to protect yourself in the sun. One should also avoid direct sunlight between 10am and 4pm when the sun’s rays are most dangerous. Stay in the shade or under an (UV protective) umbrella as much as possible. UV rays reflect off cement, water, sand, glass and grass and can therefore cause sunburn in the shade and throughout the year, not just in summer.
Govender states, “Taking charge of your health by being aware of changes on your skin, especially moles, is of utmost importance. Skin cancer can be beaten if detected early. We provide information and resources to enable you to keep up to date with your monthly skin checks using the ABCDE (Asymmetry, Border, Colour, Diameter, Evolving) guidelines to look out for warning signs. It’s also recommended for hard to see areas, such as your back or the top of your head, that you ask a family member or friend to assist you in examining yourself.”
CANSA also partners with Miiskin – a free user-friendly app that assists in monitoring changes. It may not be a diagnostic tool and does not replace a visit to the dermatologist or doctor, but it does help raise the alarm on skin changes which may then be further investigated by a professional – perfect for those on the go.
As the FotoFinders are shared among the CANSA Care Centres, skin screenings are by appointment only and if not sponsored, a small fee is charged to help cover the cost of consumables used during the examination.