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Steep rise in skin cancer figures

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The number of people admitted to hospital for skin cancer has increased by 41% in just five years, new figures show.

There has been a “significant” rise in admissions for skin cancers, which are largely preventable, the British Association of Dermatologists said.

The data, which will be presented at the World Congress On Cancers Of The Skin in Edinburgh later this week, show that admissions to English hospitals for both non melanoma skin cancer and malignant melanoma rose from 87,685 in 2007 to 123,808 in 2011.

The figures, collated by researchers at Public Health England, do not include skin cancer sufferers treated as day patients.

Skin cancers are the most common form of cancer in England, with numbers of skin cancers equal to all other types of cancers combined, the British Association of Dermatologists said.

The Association blamed the rise on the rise in cheap holidays and people tanning themselves as a “fashion statement”.

The study also found that the overall cost of inpatient treatment for skin cancers in 2011 was more than £95m.

“As holidays to sunny locations become cheaper and tanned skin remains a desirable fashion statement, we have seen an inevitable increase in skin cancer incidence rates and the associated health and financial burden they place on the nation,” said association spokesman Johnathon Major.

“Skin cancers are largely preventable and more must be done to communicate to the public the serious risks associated with unmediated sun exposure if we are to see a decline in these figures.”

Julia Verne, director of the South West Knowledge And Intelligence Team at Public Health England added: “The number of procedures required to meet the demands are increasing at a significant rate.

“Surgery was required for 78% of non-melanoma skin cancers and 71.5% of melanomas. Over 16,000 skin grafts and flaps were required for the treatment of skin cancer in 2011 and the majority are on the head and neck.”

Commenting on the figures, Professor Jane Maher, chief medical officer at charity Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Today’s figures are a clear warning sign that the British public are still not taking the risks of skin cancer seriously enough.

“What makes this even more alarming is that this is a largely preventable disease, yet UK skin cancer death rates are amongst some of the worst in the world.

“We all have a role to play in reducing skin cancer hospital admissions. The public need to do more to protect themselves from the dangers of the sun and all political parties must ensure that cancer remains a top health priority ahead of the next general election.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • This is truly horrendous!!
    I lost my 17year old daughter to malignant melanoma 12 years ago. She never sunbathed as she was very blond, blue eyed and very fair skined.
    I still slapped on the sun screen - much to her annoyance as she wanted a tan like the rest of her friends.
    My daughters melanoma was genetic and not sun related but these figures are really awful, especially as there are many fantastic creams and lotions on the market to use for protection.
    When are the general holiday public going to realise this???

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