Last week I had some pre-cancerous lumps removed from my ears, and back of my legs. These were ‘burnt’ out using liquid nitrogen. Another two on my neck had moved a bit too far past the ‘pre’ stage and had to be surgically removed.
Unfortunately this has become almost routine over the last 15 years. Every couple of years another lump or two pops up that has to be removed.
Part of this is down to the the unhappy fact that here in New Zealand we lead the world in the incidence of skin cancer per head of population. This is not just down to the fact that we have virtually no airborne pollution to filter out the bad rays, but also down to the fact that we spend a great deal of time out in the sun.
Unfortunately for old farts like me slipping past 60, we did not know about the dangers of long-term unprotected exposure to the sun back when we were young, but we are paying the price now.
While the doctor was treating my lumps we were chatting, he was a keen fisherman, so a subject wasn’t hard. So I asked him about skin protection for fishermen – and he trotted out the usual; cover-up exposed bits, slap on heaps of a total sun-blocker on bits unable to be covered, and re-slap every 30 minutes.
But it was the last bit of advice that got my attention – throw away your baseball cap and buy a wide-brimmed hat. Most of the skin cancers he sees on out-door people are on the face, neck and ears.
To use his own words, “baseball caps do not cover neck, ears, cheeks or throat – they are about as much use as chocolate tea-pot. Any one who spends a lot of time in the sun, like a fisherman, who wears a baseball cap is simply a bozo.”