Skin cancer incidence spike seven times in UK since 1970s

Last Updated: Monday, April 21, 2014 - 19:09

London: The incidence of the most serious skin cancer in Britain has spiked seven times since the 1970s with experts warning against the continuing obsession with sporting a tan.

Latest statistics released by Cancer Research UK (CRUK) show more than 13,000 people develop malignant melanoma each year in the UK, compared with around 1,800 in the mid-1970s.

It says the rise is partly due to rising popularity, from the late 60s, of package holidays to Europe.

Sunbed use has also fuelled the increase, CRUK said.

Malignant melanoma is now the fifth most common cancer, with more than 2,000 dying from it each year.

The total incidence of skin cancer is expected to surge to 20,000 a year by 2027.

Around 17 people in every 100,000 are diagnosed with the disease in Britain every year - compared with three per 100,000 in the mid 1970s.

Getting sun-burnt increases the risk of the disease.

Those with the highest risk of the disease include people with pale skin, lots of moles or freckles, a history of sunburn or a family history of the disease.

Experts advise spending time in the shade, covering up and using at least an SPF15 sunscreen.

Nick Ormiston-Smith, head of statistics at CRUK, said: "Since the mid-1970s, malignant melanoma incidence rates in the UK have increased more rapidly than for any of today's 10 most common cancers.

"Holidays in hot climates have become more affordable and sunbeds are more widely available since the 1970s.

"But we know overexposure to UV rays from the sun or sunbeds is the main cause of skin cancer.

"This means, in many cases, the disease can be prevented, and is why it's essential to get into good sun safety habits, whether at home or abroad," the BBC quoted Ormiston-Smith as saying.

However, eight in 10 people survive the disease, among the highest rate for any cancer.

Caroline Cerny, senior health campaigns manager at CRUK, said: "Everyone loves getting out and about and enjoying the summer sun. It's essential to take care not to burn - sunburn is a clear sign that the DNA in your skin cells has been damaged and, over time, this can lead to skin cancer.

"When the sun is strong, pop on a T-shirt, spend some time in the shade and use a sunscreen with at least SPF15 and good UVA protection," Cerny said.

PTI

First Published: Monday, April 21, 2014 - 11:08

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