THREE PEOPLE in their 50s are diagnosed with skin cancer in Yorkshire and Humnberside every year.
The disease has risen from being the 17th killer cancer to the fifth for the age group.
Now researchers say the number of men and women in their 50s being diagnosed with skin cancer – malignant melanoma – in Great Britain has soared since the end of the 1970s.
New figures from Cancer Research UK reveal that in Yorkshire and the Humber around three people in the 50-59 age group are diagnosed every week.
Malignant melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
The number of people in their 50s suffering it have more than tripled inthe last 30 years, rising from 7.5 cases of melanoma per 100,000 to 26.6 cases per 100,000 and have risen five-fold in the 60 to 69, 70 to 79 and over-80 age groups.
The latest available figures show that the total number of cases of malignant melanoma for all ages has increased from around 12,100 in the UK in 2009 to around 12,800 in 2010 – a rise of more than five per cent.
In the Yorkshire region around 890 people of all ages are diagnosed with malignant melanoma every year and around 150 die from the disease.
Researchers say that the increases in the rates of skin cancer can be linked to changes in people’s holiday and sun-bathing habits.
In the 1970s cheap pacjkage holidays to Mediterranean countries became popular in Britain for the first time.
Having a sun tan became fashionale, even a staus symbol.
Sunbeds were also introduced on a wide scale to Britain in the 1970s.
Skin cancer can take years to show itself, hence the increases being experienced now.
Cancer Research UK has launched a partnership with supermarket chain Tesco to raise awareness of the early signs of cancer – including malignant melanoma – because the earlier it is diagnosed, the better the chance people have of beating the disease.
The partnership is part of Tesco’s Charity of the Year project.
Cancer Research UK leaflets about the early signs of skin cancer, and advice on preventing the disease, will be available in Tesco pharmacies and cafes.
Tesco is raising £10 million to fund 32 Cancer Research UK early diagnosis projects around the UK, including one which aims to help people recognise the warning signs of skin cancer.
Thirty years ago malignant melanoma was the seventeenth most common cancer among people in their fifties in Great Britain, now it is the fifth most common in this age group.
Nicki Embleton, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Yorkshire, said: “If people are diagnosed when the cancer is in the early stages, before it has had a chance to spread around the body, treatment is more likely to be successful.
“Through our campaign with Tesco, we want to highlight the signs and symptoms of skin cancer to people in Yorkshire and encourage them to visit their doctor promptly if they notice any unusual changes in their skin.
“Tesco and Cancer Research UK are passionate about fighting cancer and by working together we aim to get the early diagnosis message across to millions of people this summer.”
Cancer is the biggest cause of death in the UK. But looking at number of cases for specific types in particular age groups, can give relatively low numbers. This is often more of an issue in younger age groups as cancer is predominately a disease of the elderly Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research. This groundbreaking work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives and is entirely by the public. Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival rates in the UK double in the last 40 years. Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses. Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK’s vision is to beat cancer. For further information about Cancer Research UK’s work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1861 or visit www.cancerresearchuk.org