Skin cancer has doubled in two decades

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New figures that have been released by Cancer Research UK indicate a shocking increase in the number of malignant melanoma diagnoses in the South West.

This is the most serious form of skin cancer and it has doubled in the region over the past 20 years. The latest figures indicate that about 21 people in every 100,000 are diagnosed with the disease in the South West on an annual basis, compared to 11 in every 100,000 during the first part of the 1990s.

This is equal to around 1500 people being diagnosed annually, which is a vast increase from 600 people per annum during the ‘90s.

The diagnoses rates of the disease have increased drastically across the country since the 1970s, and it is now standing at five times what it was four decades ago.

The increase is linked to a growth in holiday packages to Europe since the late 1960s. It may also be attributable to the growth in popularity of having a suntanned look which is only possible after enduring damaging sunburn.

The growth in the use of sun-beds has fuelled the problem. An improvement in the methods of detection of the disease may also be responsible for the increase in the number of diagnoses.

Alison Birkett, a spokesperson for Cancer Research UK in the South West, has stated that they are aware that overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays and sun-beds are the main causes of skin cancer. She further stated that this indicates that the disease can be prevented and people should adopt adequate sun safety habits, whether they are at home or abroad. She also said that this is one of the reasons why they have joined forces with Nivea Sun to raise awareness and obtain funds for further research.

Cancer Research UK has stated that people who are at higher risk are those with a family history of skin cancer, a history of sunburn, those who have a large number of freckles or moles and people with pale skins.

Although more people are being diagnosed, the survival rate of this particular form of cancer is the highest among the cancer groups. In excess of eight in 10 people can survive skin cancer.
The results of the research have been released to coincide with the launch of Cancer Research UK and Nivea Sun’s campaign to boost sun safety during the summer. This partnership offers people easy tips and simple advice to allow them to have fun while still taking precautions to protect from the harmful rays of the sun.

Image credit: SuperFantastic

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