Tuesday, 22 Sep 2020

Skin cancer warning after 150% rise in UK deaths since 1970s

Britons have been urged to take care in the sun after a dramatic rise in skin cancer deaths in the UK.

Figures from Cancer Research UK show that in the early 1970s, 1.5 people out of every 100,000 died of skin cancer.

By 2017 this was 3.8 per 100,000 – a rise of 153% – with 2,357 deaths in the UK attributed to skin cancer.

Cancer Research UK said the increase in skin cancer deaths was greatest among men, with their rates now three times higher than in the 1970s.

Skin cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the UK, with more than 16,000 people diagnosed each year, but nine in 10 cases are caught early, the charity added.

It has warned the vast majority of cases are linked to too much sun or using sunbeds.

This year the UK has seen UV levels which have been among its highest ever recorded.

According to the Met Office’s website, the UV index “does not exceed eight in the UK” – but level nine was predicted in parts of the South West in June.

The aim of the UV index is to urge people to change their behaviour to protect themselves against the risks of skin cancer and skin damage.

Cancer Research UK has now issued advice on how to protect against skin cancer:

  • Seek shade when the sun is at its hottest – between 11am and 3pm in the UK
  • Cover up with T-shirts, hats and sunglasses
  • Regular use of an SPF15 sun cream which has four or more stars to indicate the level of UVA protection

Michelle Mitchell, the charity’s chief executive, said: “There are many benefits to going outside, felt now more than ever because of sustained periods of lockdown. But something we should all be aware of is sun safety and how to reduce our risk of melanoma.

“Even though many summer holidays on beaches abroad have come to a halt, you can still get burnt in the UK sun.

“With rates rising, it’s never been more important to stay safe in the sun and contact your GP if you notice any unusual change to your skin.”

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