SKIN cancer rates in Wigan are increasing according to experts who have issued fresh warnings about the dangers posed by the sun.
More than 510 people were diagnosed with the potentially deadly condition in the borough last year, 65 of whom were diagnosed with malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form, according to Cancer Research UK.
The warning comes as official figures revealed that the number of people admitted to hospital for skin cancer treatment in England rose by nearly a third in five years.
In 2007 there were 87,685 admissions, while in 2011 there were 123,808.
Dr Tim Dalton, local GP and chair of Wigan Borough CCG said: “Skin cancer is now one of the most common
cancers in the world. There are several sorts of skin cancer that present in various ways.
“The commonest reason for concern about a long-standing mole would be one that either increases in size, especially if larger than 6mm, or a mole that changes in shape, outline or colour.
“If you have a mole with these symptoms, have any worries about developing skin cancer or if you have any new skin abnormality that hasn’t healed after four weeks, please see your local GP.
“Although it is unlikely to be skin cancer, it is best to be sure and early treatment is always the most effective option.
“Skin cancer can affect anyone, but people most at risk tend to have fair skin that burns in strong sun, red or fair hair, a lot of moles or freckles, a personal or family history of skin cancer or already had sunburn, especially when young.
“We can all take sensible steps to avoid over exposure to strong sunlight by using sun block creams, avoid using sun beds and it is especially important to always take special care of children’s skin in the sun.”
In August last year, the owner of a tanning salon was fined hundreds of pounds by magistrates after allowing an under-age boy to use a sunbed.
Gillian Catterall, owner of Tan Hair Rife on Ormskirk Road, was caught red-handed when a Wigan Trading Standards officer called at the shop to discuss a complaint in March. While there, the officer witnessed a 14-year-old boy leaving one of the tanning rooms.
In the first prosecution of its kind in Wigan, Ms Catterall admitted breaking The Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010, which restricts the use of sunbeds to persons aged 18 years and older.
Magistrates fined Catterall £630 as a result.
Experts say cheap foreign holidays and the fashion for having tanned skin are probably to blame for the increase.
The majority of the cancers treated were on the head and neck.
While skin cancers can be serious, they are also largely avoidable as excess sun exposure is the major cause.
Although public awareness about the dangers of too much exposure to UV light has improved, many people still take risks and get burnt.
Sunburn doubles your chance of developing melanoma.
Johnathon Major, of the British Association of Dermatologists, said: “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.”