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Skin cancer rates increase ‘significantly’ among middle-aged and older adults

Written by on 25/01/2021

Skin cancer rates have rocketed in the past few decades, according to a new study.

The number of cases among men has gone up five-fold and the number of cases in women have risen by 250%, driven by increases in those aged 35 and over.

The study, by Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS), analysed data on more than 265,000 people diagnosed with skin cancer in England between 1981 and 2018.

Professor Anjum Memon, chair in epidemiology and public health medicine at BSMS and lead author of the study, said those years had seen a “steady and significant” increase in skin cancer rates in those aged over 35.

He added: “We observed that the steepest increase was in males (more than two-fold that of females) and at old ages.

“The steeper increase in males is consistent with their relatively greater sun exposure and poor sun-protective behaviour.”

Skin cancer is the fifth-most common cancer in the UK and an estimated 86% of cases are due to excessive exposure to UV radiation from the sun.

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The second-most common cause is thought to be UV radiation from indoor tanning beds/lamps.

Peter Bannister, medical student at BSMS and co-author of the study, said the research showed that, for the first time, rates of skin cancer in people under the age of 34 in England had “stabilised”.

He said: “This finding suggests that public health campaigns targeted at children, adolescents and parents may be favourably influencing skin cancer incidence.”

The study is published in The Lancet Regional Health – Europe.

 Sky News

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