UK & World News

  • 21 April 2014, 9:26

Skin Cancer Rise Linked To Package Holidays

The rise of package holidays and sunbed use have been blamed for a five-fold increase in rates of the deadliest form of skin cancer since the 1970s.

Experts say the quest for a "healthy" tan has contributed to an increase in cases of malignant melanoma.

More than 13,000 people are now developing the disease each year compared about 1,800 in 1975, according to Cancer Research UK.

And the incidence rate has shot up from just over three per 100,000 of the population 40 years ago to around 17 per 100,000.

Malignant melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK and more than 2,000 people die from the disease each year.

Sunburn is known to increase the risk of skin cancer, especially in people with pale skin or large numbers of moles or freckles.

Nick Ormiston-Smith, head of statistics at Cancer Research UK, said: "Since the mid-1970s, malignant melanoma incidence rates in the UK have increased more rapidly than any of today's 10 most common cancers.

"Holidays in hot climates have become more affordable and sunbeds are more widely available since the 1970s.

"But we know over-exposure to UV (ultraviolet) rays from the sun or sunbeds is the main cause of skin cancer.

"This means, in many cases, the disease can be prevented, and is why it's essential to get into good sun safety habits, whether at home or abroad.

"The good news for those that are diagnosed, is that survival for the disease is amongst the highest for any cancer. More than eight in 10 people will now survive it."

Besides avoiding sunburn, other advice includes spending time in the shade, covering up and using a minimum factor 15 sunscreen.

Fair-skinned redhead Amanda Crosland, 43, was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 2001, despite covering up in the sun.

The mother-of-two from Leeds said: "When I noticed a new mole on my left calf, I knew it was safest to get it checked out by the doctor.

"Spotting it early meant I had a successful operation to remove the cancer before it spread.

"I've always been careful to look after my skin, but I do remember getting sunburnt as a girl.

"I still enjoy getting out in the sun, but now make sure the kids and I are properly protected with hats, T-shirts, and sunscreen, so we can enjoy the sun safely in the garden or at the beach."

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