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Foundation pushes skin care message

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Newcastle Jets starlet Patrick Langlois has become the Hunter Melanoma Foundation’s newest ambassador as the organisation bids to increase awareness within the younger generation.

The 20-year-old was announced as its latest high-profile advocate amid the recent National Skin Cancer Action Week.

Hunter Melanoma Foundation Chief Executive, Claudia Tolhurst, said it was trying to get the message out to a younger audience.

“Melanoma is the most common cancer in the 15 to 39 age group,” she said.

“We’re trying to say: ‘You’re not immune, it’s not an old person’s disease, you need to protect your skin and get it checked regularly.’”

Ms Tolhurst said the foundation had focused on a social media campaign during the week of action.

One online story featured Carol Sampaklis – the owner of Milky Lane in Darby Street – who was diagnosed with a melanoma in 2017 at the age of 31.

Ms Sampaklis was playing outside with her family when her kids noticed a black dot on the back of her ear lobe.

She initially ignored it but, after suffering an unrelated pain in her breast a few weeks later, decided to go for a check-up.

Thankfully, the tumour was caught and removed in time.

According to Ms Tolhurst, the online campaign produced good results.

“From that story on Carol, we had a lot of people sharing it on Facebook and the responses were saying they would go and get their skin checked,” she said.

Ms Tolhurst recommends using an app called SunSmart, which provides daily updates on the ultraviolet (UV) index.

“If the UV is above three, you need to protect your skin,” she said.

“It can be a 40-degree, catastrophic bushfire warning and the UV can be 11.

“The next day might be 28 degrees or overcast, but the UV can still be the same.”

Cancer Council Australia has led the push for teens to be sun smart, with new research from a National Sun Protection Survey showing one in four – or 26% – of teenagers are getting sunburnt on weekends over summer.

The survey, which compared sun protection habits of teenagers aged 12 to 17, found there had been no significant decrease in sunburn rates in the last 12 years.

More than 2,000 people in Australia die from skin cancer each year, while the cancer council estimates that the nation spends about $1 billion treating the condition annually.

Visit hmf.org.au or cancer.org.au for more information.

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