One-third of golfers would not seek medical advice if they noticed a new mole, an early telltale sign of skin cancer.
This “alarming” finding emerged from a study of skin cancer awareness among golfers in Munster by doctors from the South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital in Cork.
“A reluctance to seek medical advice remains a significant barrier to early intervention in this population,” the medics stated.
While it was a small study, the doctors noticed that there was a high incidence of non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancer among the golfers in those surveyed.
Almost one in 10 (9.8%) had a previous history of skin cancer, the most common cancer in Ireland.
Half of the golfers diagnosed with skin cancer had melanoma, a more serious type of skin cancer.
Ireland still has the highest mortality rate in Europe for melanoma, with around 159 people dying from the disease every year.
The study, published in the Irish Medical Journal was based on the response to a questionnaire by 163 golfers, and most (84%) were men.
Most (85%) of the golfers used sun screen, but many (44%) were using products with a sun protection factor of less than 30, and that was too low.
Almost three out of four (74%) wore a hat when out playing but most (52%) wore a baseball cap instead of the recommended hat with an all-around brim.
Almost all golfers (96%) were playing on a weekly basis or more often and 12% had noticed a mole with an irregular colour or edge.
A considerable number (15%) had seen their GP about a skin lesion in the previous six months.
However, most (85%) thought it unlikely that they would be visiting their doctor in the next six months, and that included 15 who had noticed a mole with an irregular colour or edge.
Asked what they would do if they noticed a new mole, 101 (60%) said they would visit their GP, but the remainder said they would ignore it or ask a partner or friend for their opinion.
More than half of all the golfers admitted to trying to get tanned at home or on holidays. Sun holidays were popular within the group surveyed with 52% going on five or more such holidays in the past five years.
Doctors said golfers might benefit from targeted education emphasising the need to better protect themselves from the sun’s rays.
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