There has been a dramatic increase in the incidence of new melanoma skin cancer diagnoses over the past 20 years, according to a report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). There were 12,993 cases recorded in 2014 in England compared to 4,777 in 1995. When the effect of a growing and ageing population is accounted for, this equates to a rise of more than double.
Sunlight is a major risk factor in the development of skin cancer, and the high numbers of UK residents taking holidays abroad may be contributing to unsafe exposure.
Skin cancer occurs more often in older people – over half of newly diagnosed cases are in people aged 60 and over. However, it affects all age groups and is the second most common cancer in people aged 15 to 49 (behind testicular cancer in men and breast cancer in women). Diagnosis rates in men overtook those in women in the mid 2000s and now stand at around 27 cases per 100,000 men.
The good news is that early diagnosis can save lives; people who are diagnosed early enough are no more likely to die within a year than if they did not have cancer.
The British Skin Foundation helps to fund research into skin disease and skin cancer. For more information go to www.britishskinfoundation.org.uk