Scots told to cover up as skin cancer rises by 40%

SCOTS have been urged to give up sunbeds and take care in the hot weather after concerning figures showed rates of deadly skin cancer rose by more than a third in a decade.

The Acting Chief Medical Officer has warned of the dangers of unsafe tanning. Picture: TSPL
The Acting Chief Medical Officer has warned of the dangers of unsafe tanning. Picture: TSPL

In 2012, 1,177 cases of malignant melanoma were reported in Scotland, with cases up 43 per cent in men and 30 per cent in women in the last ten years.

The growth has been linked to an increase in people failing to take care in the sun and rising use of sunbeds.

The figures come after Cancer Research UK warned earlier this month about rising rates of skin cancer since the 1970s following an increase in package holidays to Europe.

Kidney cancer up sharply

The latest statistics, published by Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland, also revealed large rises in other cancer types in the last decade.

Rates of kidney cancer are up 30 per cent to 838 cases in 2012. Rates in women rose 44 per cent while in men they were up 22 per cent.

ISD Scotland said the reason for the increase in kidney cancer was unclear.

“Established risk factors include obesity and smoking, but advances in medical imagining may also have led to an increase in incidental diagnosis of some tumours,” its report said.

Rates of head and neck cancers increase by 9 per cent, while non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma rose by 6.5 per cent. Bowel cancer cases were also up 3 per cent.

In women, breast cancer rates increased by 11 per cent in ten years. They also saw lung cancer rates rise by 14 per cent, while in men they dropped 16 per cent. This reflects different historical trends in smoking behaviour, with women starting to smoke and quit later.

Women also saw rates of womb cancer increase by 32 per cent in a decade, which was linked to women having children later and increases in obesity.

But the figures showed a 13 per cent drop in bladder cancer rates and 9 per cent drop in oesophagus cancer rates in men and women in a decade.

Overall the number of cases of cancer diagnosed in Scotland increased from 26,743 in 2002 to 30,450 in 2012, which was said to be largely due to the ageing population.

‘Unsafe tanning a big issue’

Dr Aileen Keel, Scotland’s Acting Chief Medical Officer, expressed concern over the rising rates of skin cancer.

“These figures are yet another stark warning of the dangers of unsafe tanning – either in the sun or using sunbeds,” she said.

“The increase in the number of people being diagnosed with melanoma may in part be down to better awareness and improved diagnosis, but there is no doubt that unsafe tanning remains a big issue, particularly among the young.

“That is why it’s crucial that people listen and act on the health advice to be safe in the sun. Many people will be planning their summer holidays now and I would urge everyone to take extra care, cover up and use sun cream.”

Health secretary Alex Neil added: “It is important to note that while cases of cancer have risen, survival rates are up, this means more people are now living longer after diagnosis.”

“Trends and scientific evidence suggest that lifestyle factors such as smoking, poor diet, low physical activity, obesity and excess alcohol consumption can all increase a person’s risk of getting cancer.

“We are aware that smoking is linked to lung cancer, alcohol to breast cancer and obesity to uterine [womb] and kidney cancer.”

“A healthier lifestyle can reduce the risk of getting cancer, so stopping smoking, drinking less alcohol, taking regular exercise and eating a healthy diet, including fruit and vegetables, can offer many health benefits.”