Region’s soaring skin cancer rates blamed on sunbeds and holidays

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HUNDREDS more people every year are being diagnosed with a potentially deadly form of skin cancer in Yorkshire than two decades ago, a charity has warned.

Cancer Research UK, which released the statistics today, says rapidly rising rates of malignant melanoma in recent decades are partly due to the increasing popularity of package trips to Europe and a boom in sunbed use.

The latest incidence rates show that nearly 16 people in every 100,000 are diagnosed with malignant melanoma in Yorkshire annually, meaning around 950 people in the region are now developing the most serious form of skin cancer every year.

This is more than double the rate of just under seven people for every 100,000 in the early 1990s, which equated to 360 people being diagnosed each year in Yorkshire.

Between 1990-92 and 2008-10, the rate at which people are being diagnosed with malignant melanoma has increased by 131 per cent in Yorkshire. The rise in men being diagnosed increased by 178 per cent compared to 100 per cent for women.

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

Rates have been increasing dramatically across the UK since the mid 1970s and are now five times higher across the UK than they were 40 years ago.

A Cancer Research UK spokeswoman said this was partly down to “an explosion in package holidays to Europe dating from the late 60s and the increasing popularity of the ‘must-have’ tan often achieved only after damaging sunburn.”

She said: “The boom in sunbed use has also helped to fuel the increase in skin cancer and better detection methods may also have contributed to the increase.”

Amanda Crosland, 43, of Leeds, was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 2001 but had it removed before the cancer could spread. The mother-of-two, who describes herself as “red-haired and fair-skinned”, 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 still enjoy getting out in the sun, but now make sure my girls and I are properly protected: hats, t-shirts, and sunscreen, so we can enjoy the sun safely.”

As well as launching a digital, radio and outdoor advertising campaign to encourage people to enjoy the sun safely this summer, Cancer Research UK and NIVEA SUN will be handing out hats and sunscreen on days when the sun is strong.