A SKIN cancer survivor is working with South Gloucestershire health experts to encourage people who work outside to use suncream this summer.

Spending long periods of time outside in hot weather can lead to the development of skin cancer, according to South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

This became clear to retired builder Michael Mansfield, from Bishopsworth, who was diagnosed with skin cancer after his wife and daughter noticed that a mole on his back has changed shape while on holiday in Ibiza.

Michael believes that his building career may have had an impact on his diagnosis, as he often spent long periods outside.

“There wasn’t any awareness of the dangers of being out in the sun when I started in the building trade," he said. 

"It was sun’s out, shirts off, and that’s what everybody did. We didn’t realise the harm we were doing." 

“I was shocked when I got a diagnosis of malignant melanoma. The cancer was very deep in the tissue and it was very lucky that we caught it when we did."

Michael, who has a 12 inch scar on his back from an operation to remove his skin cancer, is now urging people to take care in the sun as part of a national ‘cover up mate’ campaign.

He particularly wants men who work outside in hot weather to be wary of the dangers of being exposed to the sun. 

He said: “If you value your own life and the life of your family, this is something you should do.

"No one is immune to this, it can be fatal and it nearly was for me.”

Skin cancer rates are higher than average in the South West.

Figures released by Public Health England (PHE) show that between 2005 and 2014, deaths related to skin cancer increased by 22 per cent in men in the South West, but there was no increase in deaths among women.

Dr Jonathan Hayes, Clinical Chair for South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, explained that a sunburn just once every two years can "triple" a person's risk of skin cancer.

He added: "It's vitally important that you protect yourself from the sun between April and October when levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can cause skin cancer, are at their highest.

“You can’t feel UV rays, so people are often unaware that they are being burnt by the sun and by then it’s too late."

Dr Hayes advice for minimising the risk of developing skin cancer include avoiding exposure to the sun in the middle of the day and generously applying sun cream of at least a factor 15. 

He said: "This is a particularly important message for men who work outside, who often spend long periods of the day unprotected from the sun.”