Cost of skin cancer rises to £95 million

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Up to 43% increase in skin cancer cases

Official figures show that the number of people admitted into hospital for skin cancer treatment in England has risen by nearly one third over five years.

Information collected by Public Health England show that in 2007, there were 87,685 admissions, however this stole up to 123,808 by 2011. Admissions in England related to melanoma, one of the riskier forms of skin cancer, increased by 30% between 2007 and 2011, whilst non-melanoma admissions rose by 43% over the same time frame. The estimated cost of skin cancer treatment, which mainly features surgery to remove the tumours, now stands at more than £95 million a year. In 2011, more than 16,000 skin grafts and flaps were needed to treat the condition, which were mainly on the head and neck of patients.

UV dangers

Experts blame cheap foreign holidays and the fashion for having tanned skin for the incline, saying that the majority of cases could have been avoided as the main cause is excess sun exposure. Public awareness has gotten better over the years, however many people still have a tendency to get burnt, which doubles the chances of developing melanoma.

Johnathon Major, of the British Association of Dermatologists, told BBC News “As holidays to sunny locations become cheaper and tanned skin remains a desirable fashion statement, we have seen an inevitable increase in skin cancer incidence rates and the associated health and financial burden they place on the nation.

Sarah Williams, senior health information officer at Cancer Research UK, said “Changes to where patients are treated may have added to the size of this increase in hospital treatment for skin cancer, but it’s worrying to see rising rates of a disease that could largely be prevented. Although it may seem that summer’s over, September sun in the UK can still be strong enough to burn, especially for those who have sensitive skin. When the sun is strong, covering up with clothes and spending time in the shade are the best ways to protect your skin from sunburn and reduce the risk of skin cancer.”