This is how much skin cancer rates have risen in the West Midlands as health bosses issue new warning

New data shows rates of the disease are increasing across the country - here’s what the figures show for the West Midlands

New figures show that skin cancer is on the rise in the UK.

NHS data shows that there has been an alarming rise in skin cancer across the country, with diagnoses having rocketed by 16% in five years across England.

The statistics come with dermatologists warning that people shouldn’t rely on sun protection factor (SPF) containing moisturisers or cosmetics to keep safe in the sun, as the increasingly popular products do not offer the same level of protection as the equivalent SPF sunscreen.

Picture shows doctor examining patient in clinic. Visiting dermatologist

What types of skin cancer are on the rise?

All types of skin cancer are on the rise in England, according to the latest figures.

Keratinocyte cancer, also referred to as non-melanoma, is the most common form of skin cancer.

In 2013, 163,078 cases of this type of cancer were diagnosed in England, which rose to 206,911 in 2019 - a 27% increase.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can spread to other organs in the body. Across England, 12,885 cases were diagnosed in 2013 and 15,332 in 2019 - a 19% rise.

There were also 1,849 diagnoses of rare skin cancers in 2019, which was an 8% increase from 1,658 cases in 2013.

What do the figures show in the West Midlands?

In the West Midlands, there were 12,105 total skin cancer diagnoses in the West Midlands, compared with 13,248 in 2019 -a rise of 9.4%.

In those six years, cases of malignant melanoma have increased by 19.8% (1,148 in 2014 and 1,375 in 2019) - and other types of skin cancer have risen by 8.4% in the region (10,957 in 2014 and 11,873 in 2019).

Boy with reddened, itchy skin after sunburn

What’s been said about the figures?

Matthew Gass, of the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD), said: “Skin cancer cases have been on the rise since the 1970s and it is now the most common cancer in the UK. So it is not necessarily a surprise to see that the most recent skin cancer figures for England show that rates have risen again.”

He said while it is not possible to give a definitive reason for the rise in cases in England, it is “likely caused by an ageing population and better cancer registration practices”.

“It is also possible that changes to sun-seeking behaviour are a factor,” he said.

Mr Gass said in recent years there has been a big increase in the number of moisturisers and cosmetic products containing SPF (sun protection factor).

He said while these are tested in the same way as sunscreens, in reality they “tend to be applied much more thinly, and as such they don’t offer the same level of protection as the equivalent sunscreen”.

He said: “You should only rely on these when you’re getting brief, incidental sun exposure, for example if you are popping out to the shops.”

What are the symptoms of skin cancer?

Skin Cancer Awareness Month takes place every May and aims to raise awareness of skin cancer and the signs to look out for.

The symptoms of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer are different.

For melanomas, the most common sign is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole.

This can happen anywhere on the body, but the most commonly affected areas are the back in men and the legs in women.

Melanomas are uncommon in areas that are protected from sun exposure, such as the buttocks and the scalp, and in most cases they have an irregular shape and are more than one colour.

The mole may also be larger than normal and can sometimes be itchy or bleed. You should look out for a mole that gradually changes shape, size or colour.

The first sign of non-melanoma skin cancer is usually the appearance of a lump or discoloured patch on the skin that persists after a few weeks. It slowly progresses over months or sometimes years.

In most cases, cancerous lumps are red and firm and sometimes turn into ulcers, while cancerous patches are usually flat and scaly.

In either case, report any concerning symptoms to your GP.

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