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Skin cancer rates

Scots urged to avoid sunbeds as melanoma cases increase

Scots have been warned to shun sunbeds and take care in the sun after official statistics showed cases of skin cancer increased 37 per cent in ten years.

Figures on cancer incidence, published today by ISD Scotland, show that cases of malignant melanoma increased more than any of the ten most common cancers in the decade up to 2012.

Increased foreign travel, use of sunbeds and better awareness and improved diagnoses are all thought to be likely contributing factors to the increase.

Dr Aileen Keel, Scotland's Acting Chief Medical Officer, said:

"These figures are yet another stark warning of the dangers of unsafe tanning – either in the sun or using sunbeds.

"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.

"Using sunbeds is also potentially dangerous and that is why Scotland led the way by being the first part of the UK to introduce legislation to address the health risks associated with sunbed use. The legislation banned the use of sunbeds by under 18s and it also required operators to display notices warning of the health risks and to provide information to users of sunbeds on those risks.

“Towards the end of last year we undertook a further awareness raising campaign on the link between sunbed use and an increased risk of skin cancer.”

The ISD statistics showed that the number of cancer diagnoses have risen by around 3,700 over the ten year period to 30,450, mainly due to an ageing population. The most common cancers for both sexes remain lung (17 per cent of all cancers), breast (15 per cent) and bowel (13 per cent).

Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing Alex Neil said:

“Cancer remains a top priority for the Scottish Government. To build on the extensive work already undertaken by Scottish Government we launched our £30m Detect Cancer Early initiative in 2012. This ambitious programme of work aims to raise awareness of cancer and will also significantly increase capacity in the NHS to diagnose cancer, saving more lives every year.”

“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 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. That’s why the Scottish Government is implementing a wide-ranging programme of action to encourage healthy lifestyle choices, for example, through leading work to bring down smoking rates and our action plan to combat Scotland’s obesity epidemic.”


Cancer Incidence in Scotland 2012 can be viewed in full here: 33


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