Skin cancer cases in Scotland rise by almost 37% in a decade

Cases of skin cancer in Scotland have risen by almost 37% in a decade, official statistics show.

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Incidences of malignant melanoma rose more in percentage terms than any of the other most common cancers in the decade to 2012.

The findings, contained in figures published by ISD Scotland, have prompted renewed warnings about the dangers of unsafe tanning in the sun or by using sunbeds.

Scotland's acting chief medical officer, Dr Aileen Keel, said: "The increase in the number of people being diagnosed with melanoma may in part be down to better awareness and improved diagnosis, but there is no doubt that unsafe tanning remains a big issue, particularly among the young.

"That is why it's crucial that people listen and act on the health advice to be safe in the sun.

"Many people will be planning their summer holidays now and I would urge everyone to take extra care, cover up and use suncream.

"Using sunbeds is also potentially dangerous and that is why Scotland led the way by being the first part of the UK to introduce legislation to address the health risks associated with sunbed use."

Malignant melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in women and the seventh most common in men.

Incidence rates increased over the last decade by 43% in men and 30% in women, levelling out at 36.7% for both sexes.

Overall, the latest figures show that about 14,600 males and 15,800 females were diagnosed with some form of cancer in 2012.

The total number of diagnoses has risen by around 3,700 over the decade to 30,450 in 2012, a rise thought likely to be due to an ageing population.

Over the last 10 years, incidence rates of cancer in Scotland have fallen by 5% in males but increased by 8% in females.

Lung cancer remains the most common form of the disease, accounting for 17% of all cancers diagnosed in 2012.

For men, the most common cancers are prostate, lung and colorectal cancers, which collectively account for 52% of cancers affecting them. Breast cancer, as well as lung and colorectal cancers, together account for 56% of cancers in women.

But the figures do show "considerable variation" between the different types of cancer.

On the one hand, the incidence rate of cancer of the kidney across the population has increased by 30% over the last 10 years, and head and neck cancers are up 9.4% over the same period.

By contrast, incidences of cancers such as of those affecting the oesophagus, bladder and ovaries have decreased by between 9% and 13% over the same period.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said cancer remains a "top priority" for the Scottish Government and he pointed to their £30 million Detect Cancer Early initiative launched in 2012.

"It is important to note that while cases of cancer have risen, survival rates are up, this means more people are now living longer after diagnosis," he said.

"A healthier lifestyle can reduce the risk of getting cancer, so stopping smoking, drinking less alcohol, taking regular exercise and eating a healthy diet, including fruit and vegetables, can offer many health benefits."


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