A SPECIALIST taskforce has been set up following an alarming rise in skin cancer in Wigan.
New figures from Ashton, Leigh and Wigan Primary Care Trust have revealed that over a 10-year period the number of people diagnosed with the disease has soared, from 319 cases in 1999 to 521 in 2009.
And worryingly, Wigan now has 75 sun bed salons the third highest in the UK per head of population.
In 2009 there were 65 cases of malignant melanoma – the most fatal – in Wigan Borough compared to 46 in 2004 and 18 in 1999. Between 2008 and 2010, 29 people died from skin cancer in the borough.
Dr Paul Turner, consultant in public health for Wigan, said: “There has been a steady rise in cases of skin cancer in Wigan and across the country for several years.
“Part of the rise is associated with increasing sun exposure that started in the early 1970s and a heavier use of sun beds.
“Most types of skin cancer are treatable and do not result in death.
“However, one type of skin cancer, malignant melanoma, is often fatal if not diagnosed at an early stage.
“People who have a mole that is changing shape, enlarging, becoming darker in colour or bleeding should seek medical advice. The risk of developing skin cancer, including malignant melanoma, can be reduced by limiting exposure to ultraviolet light either directly from the sun or from sun bed use.
“People should still enjoy the sun but take sensible precautions to avoid burning of the skin.”
A multi-agency working group has been formed consisting of public health officers, Wigan Council Trading Standards, a GP with a special interest in cancer, a GP with a special interest in dermatology and clinical staff from both NHS Bridgewater and Wrightington Wigan and Leigh NHS Trusts.
Their aim is to combine efforts and resources into raising awareness of dangers of all methods of tanning and reducing usage of sun beds, particularly by young people.
In the North West, 1,300 people are diagnosed with malignant melanoma every year and 220 die.
from the disease.