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Hope for end to melanoma rates growth

Wednesday January 27th 2021

The growth in melanoma incidence in young adults has “stabilised” this century, suggesting that public health messages may have had some success, according to a new UK study.

According to the study, incidence of malignant melanoma has increased by six times in men in England in the last 40 years – and by more than three times in women.

The growth in cancer rates has been linked to increased access to holidays in hot climates since the middle of the last century – although use of sun beds for artificial tanning is the second biggest cause, according to the researchers at Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

The findings have been published in the European edition of The Lancet Regional Health.

The researchers say that the location on the body of cases of cancer tends to confirm the theory that sunbathing is the cause. Incidence on the trunk in men increased by nine times in the 40 years.

One of the researchers, medical student Peter Bannister, said: "The study also showed, for the first time, that the rates of skin cancer in young people (aged 0-34 years) in England have stabilised (or levelled off) during the last two decades. This finding suggests that public health campaigns targeted at children, adolescents and parents may be favourably influencing skin cancer incidence.

"The stabilisation of incidence in young people is encouraging and emphasises the importance of continued and sustained primary prevention measures to further improve sun-protective behaviours - such as avoidance of excessive exposure to sunlight and indoor tanning, appropriate clothing and application of sunscreens."

The medical school dean Professor Malcolm Reed said: ""Considering that the large majority (86%) of skin cancers in the UK and other high-risk populations are preventable, this study has highlighted the potential benefits of effective primary and secondary prevention measures to substantially reduce the burden of the disease.

“This could have significant benefits for individuals, populations and health services, making skin cancer one of the most preventable forms of cancer on a global scale."

Changing epidemiology and age-specific incidence of cutaneous malignant melanoma in England: An analysis of the national cancer registration data by age, gender and anatomical site, 1981-2018. Lancet Regional Health – Europe 6 January 2021

[abstract]

Tags: Cancer | Dermatology | UK News

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