Melanoma deaths surged over last few decades

DEATHS from melanoma have increased dramatically in the UK, with rates more than doubling in since the 1970s, according to figures released by Cancer Research UK.

Melanoma skin cancer mortality rates increased from 1.5 deaths per 100,000 people between 1971-1973 to 3.8 deaths per 100,000 people between 2015-2017. The mortality rate increase for males was higher at 233 per cent compared to 80 per cent for females.

Cancer Research UK reports that 91 per cent of melanoma patients in England are diagnosed at an early stage, with a 91 per cent five-year survival rate, but increased incidence rates appear to have led to the surge in deaths.

It says that many of these deaths could be prevented as 86 per cent of cases are linked to too much sun or sunbeds, with the risk of developing melanoma around three times higher in people who have had sunburn just once every two years.

In the UK around 16,200 people are diagnosed each year with melanoma, making it the fifth most common cancer in the UK.

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: "There are many benefits to going outside, felt now more than ever because of sustained periods of lockdown. But something we should all be aware of is sun safety and how to reduce our risk of melanoma."

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