THERE has been a dramatic rise in Wiganers getting skin cancer as figures have almost trebled over recent years,
Shocking new figures from Cancer Research UK reveal that around 18 people in every 100,000 are diagnosed with malignant melanoma in the borough annually, compared to just six per 100,000 in the early 1990s. This equates to around 1,400 people developing malignant melanoma in Wigan every year and marks a significant change since 20 years ago when 450 people were diagnosed annually.
Malignant melanoma is now the fifth most common cancer in the UK and more than 2,000 people die from the disease each year.
The rise is partly down to an explosion in package holidays abroad and the increasing popularity of the desire to be tanned, often achieved after damaging sunburn, or sunbeds.
Better detection methods may also have contributed to the rise in the number of people diagnosed.
In a bid to raise awareness, Cancer Research UK and NIVEA SUN have launched a campaign to encourage safety in the sun, plus teams will be handing out hats and sunscreen on days when the sun is strong.
Jane Bullock, Cancer Research UK spokesman for the North West, said: “Overexposure to UV rays from the sun or sunbeds is the main cause of skin cancer.
“In many cases, the disease can be prevented, so it’s essential to get into good sun safety habits at home and abroad. One of the best ways to reduce risk is to avoid getting sunburn. Those with the highest risk of the disease include people with pale skin, lots of moles or freckles, a history of sunburn or a family history of the disease. Sadly more people are being diagnosed with malignant melanoma each year. But more than eight in 10 people will now survive the disease.”
Professor Kate Ardern, Wigan’s director of public health, said: “Remember even in England the sun can be very strong and a good quality sun cream should be used one which offers protection against both UVA and UVB and be particularly careful to ensure children are properly protected when outside on hot days.”
For more sun safety tips visit www.sunsmart.org.uk