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Sharp rise in skin cancer cases

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The number of men and women in their 50s suffering from the most dangerous type of skin cancer has quadrupled in the last three decades, figures suggest.

In 1981 there were about 480 50 to 59-year-olds diagnosed with malignant melanoma in Britain and the figure soared to almost 1,950 a year by 2010, Cancer Research UK said.

Almost five people a day are diagnosed with the disease - which can prove fatal if diagnosed at a late stage.

Figures show that the number of cases of malignant melanoma across all age groups are on the rise. In 2010, 12,800 people in the UK were diagnosed with the disease compared with 12,100 in 2009.

A Cancer Research UK spokeswoman said the charity is working with supermarket chain Tesco to raise awareness about the importance of early diagnosis.

The store is providing leaflets about cancer and is aiming to raise £10 million this year to fund 32 early diagnosis research projects across the UK.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh, who are finding new ways to help people recognise the signs of skin cancer earlier, are one group which will benefit from the funding.

The team want to see if using web-based images could be more successful at helping people recognise skin abnormalities.

Professor Jonathan Rees, who is leading the team, said: “The team in Edinburgh are working to use the internet and the potential it offers to access many images. It’s a bit like bird spotting - using pictures as a guide to what malignant melanoma could look like and helping people make a better decision about seeing their doctor.”

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