Surge in skin cancer prompts sun safety reminders

Cases of skin cancer in Scotland have increased by more than 30 per cent in a decade, prompting calls for Scots to take more care in the sun.

Scotland’s new Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood has urged people to take care on hot days and avoid using sunbeds, in the wake of the new figures. The latest data shows there were 1,172 diagnoses of melanoma in 2013, making it the sixth most common cancer in Scotland.

Dr Calderwood said: “The best way to cut your chances of getting melanoma is to reduce your exposure to the sun, and avoid using sunbeds. The most common symptom of melanoma is a new mole, or a change in the appearance of an existing mole.

Melanomas are usually irregular in shape and contain more than one colour. They can be larger than usual moles and might itch or bleed. If you have any of these symptoms, make an appointment at your GP surgery as soon as possible.

The incidence of cancer across all types has increased in Scotland, although this is linked to the growing elderly population. The total number of cancers, excluding non-melanoma skin cancers which are rarely fatal, rose from 27,095 to 31,013 between 2003 and 2013.

More people are surviving with the disease – there are 176,000 people in Scotland who have been diagnosed with cancer over the last 20 years and who are still alive.

This represents three per cent of the Scottish population. Colin Graham, chief executive of charity Cancer Support Scotland, said the data did not reflect the impact cancer has on patients and their families.

He said: “To support the person with cancer, family members and carers often have to give up their jobs but they don’t get the information or the psychological support they often need to help them cope.”


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