Graphic: Outlook for cases of skin cancer is far from sunny
10:15 03 September 2014
Concerns have been raised about the rise in skin cancer cases across the country. AMy Smith looks at the picture locally
•There are more than 200 types of cancer, each with different causes, symptoms and treatments.
•Every two minutes someone in the UK is diagnosed.
•More than 331,000 people were diagnosed with cancer in 2011 in the UK - around 910 people every day.
•Around 1,600 children under the age of 16 are diagnosed with cancer each year in the UK.
•Breast, lung, prostate and bowel cancers together account for over half of all new cancers each year.
•Cancer can develop at any age, but is most common in older people. More than a third of cancers are diagnosed in people aged 75 and over and less than 1pc of all cancers in the UK occur in children aged 0-14 and teenagers and young adults aged 15-24.
•Overall cancer incidence rates in Great Britain have increased by more than a third since the mid 1970s.
•Changes to your body’s normal processes or symptoms that are out of the ordinary can be an early sign of cancer. A lump that suddenly appears, unexplained bleeding or changes to your bowel habits are all symptoms that need to be checked by a doctor.
•Making some simple changes to your lifestyle like eating healthy, regular exercise and not smoking can lower the risk of developing cancer.
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The pressure to have a golden glow and a lack of understanding about the dangers of the sun years ago are all being blamed for a rise in the number of people being treated for skin cancer.
In just five years 41pc more people have been admitted to hospital for skin cancer treatment, rising from 87,685 people in 2007 to 123,808 in 2011.
And in Norfolk alone, figures from Cancer Research UK show that more than 1,600 people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year, with around 220 people being diagnosed with malignant melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer.
Jill Chapman, manager of the Big C cancer support and information centre at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: “The figures are not surprising. Some years ago we didn’t realise how bad the sun was for us. We didn’t cover up, use a high factor sun cream or know what to look for on our bodies and it can take a long time for things to start showing up, which is probably what is happening now.
“It is a well-known fact that the sun is not good for us but it has a lot to do with body image and what we want to look like.
“We tend to say people look well when they have a tan but it’s about changing our mind-set to realise you don’t need to have a tan to look well and it is a lot safer to use fake tan.
“The most important thing is to know our bodies and realise when things start changing. We need to keep an eye on our skin and notice if the appearance starts changing, if our moles change in size, colour or if they start bleeding, if it gets itchy or painful. Go to the doctor straight away so they can decide what to do.”
The data, collated by researchers at Public Health England, includes cases of both non melanoma and malignant melanoma skin cancer, but does not include skin cancer sufferers treated as day patients.
The British Association of Dermatologists has described the rise as “significant” but said it is “largely preventable.” The association blamed the increase on the rise in cheap holidays and people tanning themselves as a fashion statement.
The data will be presented at the World Congress on Cancers of the Skin in Edinburgh later this week. The study also found the overall cost of inpatient treatment for skin cancers in 2011 was more than £95m.
Dr Nick Levell, consultant in dermatology at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: “Research in Norwich has shown that the number of people in Norfolk with basal cell carcinoma skin cancer has doubled over 10 years and this will continue to increase in the future. The main causes for the increase are more older people and too much sunbathing or sunbeds.
“We advise avoiding sun burn and excesses of sun, particularly if you have pale skin, freckles, red or fair hair and burn easily.
“Many young people still regularly burn themselves on sunny holidays abroad, so we know the problem will continue to get worse for many decades. We are also seeing big increases in the number of people sent to hospital with suspected melanoma and this form of skin cancer can kill.”
Figures from Cancer Research UK also show that more than 1,280 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every year in Suffolk, with around 180 people diagnosed with malignant melanoma.
Do you think people are still ignorant about the dangers of getting sunburn? Email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk, including your name, address and contact details.