Urgent skin cancer warning as cases hit record high with cheap package holidays blamed
- Cancer Research UK pointed to a particular rise among adults aged 55 and over
- READ MORE: Six surprising places skin cancer can emerge revealed
The cheap package holiday boom of the 1960s has been linked to a rise in a serious type of skin cancer among older adults, a charity has suggested.
New figures from Cancer Research UK reveal that melanoma skin cancer diagnoses across all age groups have reached a record high, with 17,500 people diagnosed each year in the UK.
Their latest projections suggest cases could increase by nearly 50 per cent over the next 20 years, hitting a record 26,500 diagnoses a year by 2040.
The charity pointed to a particular rise in cases among adults aged 55 and over, who would have been born from the year 1968 onwards.
Case rates among this age group have nearly tripled since the 1990s.
Cancer Research UK pointed to a particular rise in cases among adults aged 55 and over, who would have been born from the year 1968 onwards. Case rates among this age group have nearly tripled since the 1990s. ‘The rise in rates in over-55s is likely to be linked to trends to have tanned skin and the cheap package holiday boom dating from the 1960s before people became more aware of skin cancer,’ the charity said
Between 1993 and 1995, 21.3 people aged 55 and over were diagnosed with melanoma out of every 100,000, which rose to 62.9 cases per 100,000 in 2017-2019.
‘The rise in rates in over-55s is likely to be linked to trends to have tanned skin and the cheap package holiday boom dating from the 1960s before people became more aware of skin cancer,’ the charity said.
Other factors could also be at play, including a growing and ageing population as well as more people getting their skin checked when they notice changes.
But despite the rise in cases, deaths from the disease are decreasing, the charity revealed.
CRUK said that early diagnosis and treatment means that more people than ever will survive the disease.
Cancer Research UK’s chief executive Michelle Mitchell said: ‘Our new analysis paints a mixed picture for cancer patients and the staff who care for them.
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‘While it’s promising that more people are seeking treatment for skin cancer earlier and survival is improving, it’s alarming that cases of the disease could soar over the coming years.
‘Melanoma is the UK’s fifth most common cancer, and we know that 86 per cent of these skin cancers could be prevented.
‘It’s important to take care in the sun and to contact your GP if you notice any unusual changes to your skin – it’s not just changes to a mole that matter, it could be a sore that doesn’t heal or any unusual changes to an area of your skin. Spotting cancer early can make all the difference.’
Cancer Research UK’s head of health and patient information Dr Julie Sharp added: ‘Whether you are holidaying abroad or enjoying the good weather closer to home, it’s important to take steps to reduce your risk of skin cancer, especially if you burn easily.
‘And remember sunburn doesn’t just happen on the hottest days, you can still get burnt when it’s cloudy.
‘The best way to protect your skin when the sun is strong is to spend time in the shade, especially between 11am and 3pm in the UK, and to cover up with a T-shirt, hat and sunglasses.
‘Wearing sunscreen will also help you stay safe in the sun. Make sure you put plenty on and reapply it regularly.’
Getting sunburnt just once every two years can triple the risk of developing skin cancer, the charity warned.
A new mole or a change in an existing mole may be signs of melanoma.
WHAT DO CANCEROUS MOLES LOOK LIKE? CHECKING IS AS EASY AS ABCDE
The more moles someone has, the higher their risk of developing melanoma.
The following ABCDE guidance can help people identify moles that might need looking over by a doctor.
Look out for moles with an irregular shape.
Check for asymmetrical moles that have an irregular shape
Check for jagged edges.
People should look out for moles with irregular borders and jagged edges
If a mole changes in colour or is a different colour in one part than in another, seek medical advice.
Moles that change colour or have a different colours within them should be looked over
Any increase in size should be checked, but be particularly cautious of moles that grow more than around 6mm across.
Any change in size should be checked, but more than 6mm across is very concerning
The E section is generally classed as ‘elevation’; warning you to watch out for moles that are raised from the surface, particularly if this is irregular.
Yet, Dr David Fisher, director of the melanoma program at Massachusetts General Hospital, explains many dermatologists have different classifications for this.
His preferred word is ‘evolving’.
Dr Fisher previously told MailOnline: ‘Is it changing? Do you notice anything suspicious or concerning? That is key.’
Look out for moles that are raised or those that ‘evolve’ over time
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