UK & World News
Skin Cancer Cases Surge 41% In Five Years
Skin cancer hospital admissions have almost doubled in the last five years, new research has revealed.
A study by Public Health England has found that the number of people admitted to hospital for non melanoma skin cancer and malignant melanoma climbed from 87,685 to 123,808 between 2007 and 2011.
That equates to a surge of 41%, not including skin cancer sufferers who were treated as day patients.
Health authorities say the new figures indicate people are not doing enough to protect themselves from the largely preventable disease.
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.
According to the British Association of Dermatologists, skin cancers are the most common form of cancer in England.
It says the number of skin cancer cases is equal to all other types of cancer combined.
Health authorities have blamed the surge on cheap holidays and tanning as a "fashion statement".
Jonathon Major, a spokesman for the association, said: "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.
"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."
The study found that, in line with the rise in cases, the number of medical procedures climbed at a "significant" rate, costing hospitals millions annually.
Julia Verne, director of the South West Knowledge And Intelligence Team at Public Health England, said: "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.
The overall cost of inpatient treatment for skin cancers in 2011 was more than £95 million, the study revealed.
The new data will be presented at the World Congress On Cancers Of The Skin in Edinburgh later this week.