Increase in skin and liver cancer in England

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According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), skin cancer has increased by 78% in males and 48% in females between 2003 and 2012. The report has not made adjustments for growth in the population.

The ONS reported that liver cancer has increased by 70% in males and 60% in females. The main causes of liver cancer are hepatitis B and C, obesity and alcohol. The main cause of skin cancer is overexposure to the sun.

During 2012, breast cancer was the most common cancer among females, affecting around 31% of those who received a diagnosis. In males, prostate cancer was most commonly diagnosed, at 26%.

Lung and bowel cancers were placed second and third on the most prevalent list of cancers among males and females respectively.

Skin cancer has now become the fifth most common cancer and is responsible for 4% of all new cases. Newly diagnosed cases have seen an increase from 3109 to 5535 in males, and from 3886 to 5746 in females for the period from 2003 to 2012.

According to the ONS, changes in clothing styles and increased sunbathing levels contributed to this increase.

Liver cancer has become the 18th most common cancer in England and is responsible for 1% of all new cases. New cases increased from 1440 to 2449 for males and from 889 to 1418 for females for the period between 2003 and 2012.

The Chief Executive at the British Liver Trust, Andrew Langford, did not find the figures surprising. He said that it is a fine line that people are walking at the moment. He said that part of the problem is the liver cancer is often linked to alcoholics, however people described as heavy drinkers are also at risk.

He added that people who drink should take two to three days a week off to allow their livers to rejuvenate.

Lung cancer has increased by 18% in females and decreased by 8% in males, between 2003 and 2012.

The split has come about due to changing smoking patterns. There is a decline in the number of males who smoked over the past five to six decades, but an increase in the number of females who started the habit during the same period.

Cancer Research UK’s Matt Wickenden, said that in excess of 40% of cancers can be prevented by changes in lifestyle. He stated that smoking is the cause of nearly one fifth of all cancers. He added that there was a critical need to reduce smoking rates, hence the call for the government to introduce standardised, plain tobacco packaging as soon as possible to prevent the next generation from starting this habit which kills 50% of long-term users.

The rate of diagnoses for breast cancer has remained constant over the past ten years. The main risk factor for breast cancer is age, with 80% of females diagnosed during 2012 being over the age of 50.

The research indicated that 27% of the breast cancer cases were due to hormonal and reproductive factors, lack of physical exercise, obesity and alcohol.

The biggest risk for prostate cancer was age and 89% of all new cases during 2012 were in males over the age of 60.

Image Credit: Ed Uthman

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