Russell Blackstock

Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

Wise up'n'cover up, guys

Outdoorsy Kiwi adults are failing to use good sense in the sun.

James Pamment is grateful an alert medic detected his cancerous lump. Photo / Mark McKeown
James Pamment is grateful an alert medic detected his cancerous lump. Photo / Mark McKeown

Melanoma experts will be at cricket matches this summer to warn fans about the dangers of too much exposure to the sun.

The health drive is aimed at sports-mad Kiwi men who continue to shun safety messages and rarely use sunscreen.

Tents manned by melanographers from MoleMap will be at the nationwide Masters Series, which opens in Nelson on December 9, with free mole checks for players and spectators.

Former cricket ace James Pamment, who played 14 first class matches for Auckland in the 1990s, backs the campaign after a cancer scare last year.

By chance, a doctor watching Pamment coach a football match noticed a lump on the back of his left leg.

"It was sheer good fortune the doctor spotted the lump, and that is what saved my life."

Pamment, 44, from Papamoa, had surgery to remove the cancer and has checks every six months.

"I would urge anyone who spends any time in the sun to get properly protected and have regular check-ups," he said.

Barry Sinclair, 76, who played 21 test matches as a specialist batsman for NZ, began to have skin problems after decades playing sport in the sunshine with little protection. He also spends a lot of time at the beach.

"Back in the day, we were pretty blase about the effects of the sun and parents even told kids it was good for them," Sinclair said. "I now get my moles tested a couple of times a year."

Auckland dermatologist Dr Mark Gray said more than 70 per cent of New Zealanders were putting themselves at risk by not having regular check-ups.

"It is difficult to understand that despite 20 years of sun education and free spot checking services, people don't bother to get themselves checked," he said. "Kiwi men and women need to be more responsible for taking adequate care in the sun, especially when it kills more than 300 of us annually."

Cricket fans are targeted because they often fall into the high risk category for skin cancer, often older males who spend long periods in peak UV hours without sun protection, Dr Gray added.

- Herald on Sunday

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