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UK skin cancer rates double in decade

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Skin cancer rates have almost doubled in the last ten years, according to latest government data.

The figures, released following a parliamentary question from the Liberal Democrats, show the number of skin cancer cases doubled from 5,000 a year in 1997 to nearly 9,000 in 2007.

However, at the same time, funding for the government’s SunSmart campaign has been cut by nearly a third, from 145,000 in 2005-2006 to 104,000 in 2007-2008.

Sandra Gidley, Liberal Democrat health spokesperson, said: ‘This shocking increase underlines how skin cancer care must become a significant public health priority.

‘It is stunning that when faced with such a rise, the government is actually cutting back on funding that can help prevent the problem,’ she said.

‘Far too many people are still not fully aware of the dangers of excessive sun exposure, especially for children. With a hot summer forecast, it is more important than ever that people know how to best protect themselves and their family,’ she added.

A separate poll, carried out by Cancer Research UK, found 34% of more than 2,000 respondents were less likely to travel somewhere sunny this year because of the recesssion - some said they would opt for using a sunbed to get a tan instead.

Katy Scammell, a spokesperson for the charity, said: ‘Using a sunbed may seem like a cheap, quick fix to achieve that summer glow, yet while the process may only take a few moments, the damage can last a lifetime.’

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