UK skin cancer cases reach all time high

UK skin cancer cases reach all-time high

Cancer Research UK expert more than 20,000 to be diagnosed this year

Melanoma skin cancer cases are at an all-time high, with 20,800 people expected to be diagnosed this year in the UK.

Analysis by Cancer Research UK shows rates of melanoma have increased by almost a third over a decade, from 21 to 28 per 100,000 people between 2007-09 and 2017-19.

Among those aged over 80, there was a 57% rise, while among those aged 25 to 49 there was a 7% increase.

Cancer Research UK said around 17,000 melanoma cases every year are preventable, with almost nine in 10 caused by too much ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

UV from the sun can damage DNA in skin cells and cause skin cancer.

​The charity advises people spend time in the shade, especially between 11am and 3pm; cover up with clothes, a wide-brimmed hat, UV-protection sunglasses and a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and 4 or 5 stars, applied often.

Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, Michelle Mitchell, said: “Survival from cancers including melanoma continues to improve, demonstrating the substantial progress made possible by research.

“But it’s vital that people try to reduce their risk of getting the disease in the first place.

“Make sure to take care in the sun and contact your GP if you notice any unusual changes to your skin – whether a new or changing mole, a sore that doesn’t heal, or an area of your skin that looks out of the ordinary.

“Spotting cancer early can make all the difference.”

According to the charity, younger people are more aware of the link between the sun and skin cancer than those who are older, who may have taken advantage of the “cheap package holiday boom” from the 1960s onwards.

​Other factors driving up cases include a growing and ageing population and improved awareness of the symptoms of skin cancer.

Figures show, however, that more people are surviving melanoma, with deaths expected to continue to fall.

Almost nine in 10 adults diagnosed with melanoma in England will now survive their disease for a decade or more.

​Dr Claire Knight, senior health information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “Getting sunburnt just once every two years can triple the risk of developing skin cancer, compared to never being burnt.

“Whether you are enjoying the good weather abroad or here at home, it’s important to protect yourself from too much sun, especially if you burn easily.

​”Remember that sunburn doesn’t only happen when it’s hot – it can happen on cooler or cloudier days too.

​“The best way to protect your skin when the sun is strong is to use shade, clothing and sunscreen together.

“Seek shade in the middle of the day, cover up with a shirt that covers your shoulders, a hat and sunglasses and wear sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and 4 or 5 stars. Make sure you put plenty on and reapply it regularly.”

Last month, experts told how the world’s first personalised mRNA cancer jab for melanoma – which also has the potential to stop lung, bladder and kidney cancer – is being tested in British patients.

The “gamechanger” jab, which offers hope of a cure, is custom-built for each person in just a few weeks.

A stage 2 trial of the jab, involving pharma firms Moderna and MSD, found it dramatically reduced the risk of the cancer returning in melanoma patients.

A final phase 3 trial is now running, led by University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH).

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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