“The fight against skin cancer … begins in your head”: the 21st Melanoma Prevention Campaign is drawing attention to the psychological aspects of skin cancer treatment and prevention.
Cases of skin cancer are on the rise, with more than 38,000 new cases diagnosed in Belgium last year – a growth of 350% in 12 years. The Melanoma Prevention Campaigns aim to combat this, by raising public awareness about the dangers of sun exposure, as well as by trying to encourage people to detect the early signs of potentially cancerous lesions.
This year, the campaign is focused on the notion of denial: “People associate cancer with death,” says Julien Tiete, a psychologist at Erasmus Hospital. “Death is something against which we all try to defend ourselves, and we often do this by appealing to – among other things – the mechanism of denial. It is extremely notable that a straightforward failure to confront what is obviously true is a real barrier for some people to go and see a doctor, get tested and get treated.”