Melanoma skin cancer cases at all-time high in UK | UK News

Melanoma skin cancer occurrences in the UK have hit an unprecedented peak, with an estimated 20,800 individuals predicted to receive diagnoses this year. According to Cancer Research UK, melanoma rates – a type of skin cancer known for its potential to metastasize – have surged by nearly a third over the last decade.

The frequency has climbed from 21 to 28 per 100,000 individuals between 2007-2009 and 2017-2019. Recent analysis reveals the upward trend is prevalent across all age groups, with the most significant increase observed in adults over 80 – a 57% rise in cases over the past ten years. Among those aged 25 to 49, there was a 7% escalation.

Cancer Research UK stated approximately 17,000 melanoma incidents annually are preventable, with nearly nine out of ten attributable to excessive ultraviolet (UV) exposure. UV from sunlight or tanning beds can damage DNA in skin cells, leading to skin cancer. The charity advises spending time in the shade, especially from 11am to 3pm; covering up with clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, UV-protection sunglasses, and a sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and 4 or 5 stars, applied frequently. One such individual diagnosed with skin cancer after discovering a tiny spot above her knee is Shrewsbury postmistress Caroline Jones.

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Caroline Jones is encouraging individuals to have their skin examined

Ms. Jones first visited her doctor after noticing a small mole-like mark on her leg in July 2018. She expressed to Sky News: “I saw a tiny but peculiar mole-type thing, about half the size of a penny, just above my knee on my right thigh and felt it necessary to have it checked by the doctor.” The 57-year-old, acutely aware of cancer’s dangers after losing her mother at just 49, is urging others to have their skin examined if worried. She shared: “I sat in the waiting room looking at the pictures on the wall and I could see that my skin resembled one of the photographs – flat and shiny and dark in the middle.”

“My mother passed away from breast cancer at the age of 49, and here I was, aged 52. I honestly believed I was going to die.” A biopsy revealed the spot was cancerous two weeks later, and Ms. Jones had the mole removed without requiring further treatment.

Post-removal of Caroline's melanoma

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Ms. Jones‘ melanoma was excised

Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, Michelle Mitchell, declared: “Survival rates for cancers including melanoma continue to rise, showcasing the significant advancements facilitated by research.” However, she emphasized the importance of minimizing the risk of developing the disease in the first place. “Ensure you take precautions in the sun and consult your doctor if you notice any unusual changes to your skin – whether it’s a new or altered mole, a sore that doesn’t heal, or an area of skin that appears abnormal.” Early detection of cancer can be critical.”

Higher survival rates

Data from the charity indicates that more individuals are surviving melanoma, with fatalities expected to decline further. Nearly nine in ten adults diagnosed with melanoma in England will now survive beyond a decade. Young people, according to the charity, are more cognizant of the relationship between the sun and skin cancer compared to older individuals, who might have benefited from the “inexpensive package holiday boom” from the 1960s onwards. Additional factors contributing to rising cases include a growing and older population and increased awareness of skin cancer symptoms.

Read more: Too many patients experiencing prolonged waits for cancer treatment, statistics reveal Proteins in blood ‘could signal cancer seven years before diagnosis’
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Dr. Claire Knight, senior health information manager at Cancer Research UK, mentioned: “Experiencing sunburn just once every two years can triple the likelihood of developing skin cancer compared to never being burned.” Last month, experts discussed the development of the world’s first personalized mRNA cancer vaccine for melanoma, which also holds potential to combat lung, bladder, and kidney cancer, currently being tested on British patients. The “revolutionary” vaccine, offering hope for a cure, is tailored for each individual within just a few weeks. A phase-2 trial of the vaccine, involving pharmaceutical companies Moderna and MSD, showed it significantly reduced the recurrence risk among melanoma patients. A final phase-3 trial is now underway, led by University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH).

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