With the dangers from sunbeds well known, we shouldn’t be surprised that a new study raises concerns on another UV source.
Recent times have seen greater publicity on the dangers of the sun. Our parliament joined in during May 2023, a motion tabled for the House to mark Skin Cancer Awareness Month and to make sunscreen more affordable.
The Netherlands are going a stage further, offering sunscreen to their citizens free of charge in summer 2023. Dispensers will be available at schools, universities, concerts, sports venues and public spaces.
No cost and greater convenience are meant to encourage non sunscreen users to change their habits. Helping to lower future levels of skin cancer, a disease which despite efforts to date, has kept on increasing.
The Current Data
The Covid pandemic had an effect on data gathering, along with diagnosis and treatment nationally. Figures below may not be precise but are not far away.
Non melanoma skin cancers are currently at around 180,000 cases per year, with melanoma at 17,500. About 2,400 people die from melanoma each year, a lower number from rare skin cancers, or squamous cell carcinoma.
The number of people with minor cases, or pre-cancers such as actinic keratosis is not known, many do not seek, or are not referred to specialist support. This will however be a substantial number.
Even setting those aside, skin cancer is now the most common type of cancer diagnosed in the UK. Equivalent to more than 50% of all other cancers combined.
The direction of change seen for a number of years continues, both in terms of numbers of skin cancer cases and scientific progress.
Digital diagnostic equipment is advancing, including improved ability to recognise change in our skin over time. Research continues to yield improved treatments for later stage, invasive skin cancers.
This is however against a backdrop of the increasing volume of cases. Across the UK, over 600,000 people were sent for skin cancer checks in the last year, double the number from a decade earlier.
Cancer Research UK predict continuing growth for melanoma, expected to reach 26,500 new cases per year within 15 years.
Signs Of Improvement
The fact that medical insurance companies are helping to fund the free sunscreen in The Netherlands is a positive sign. Part of the recognition of savings through prevention which is taking hold.
We should remember that skin cancer is often a slow burn disease and the origin of many current cases lies in times past. This can be as far back as the growing trend for overseas holidays in the 1960s, or 70s.
There are of course cases which develop quite quickly but increased awareness is an asset in either scenario. Of dangers the sun can bring, a need to protect ourselves and the benefit of early intervention if there is a problem.
2023 is a year when cure rates will remain high, through specialist, prompt support and fresh scientific advances. You are welcome to see more on skin cancer treatment, or follow the links below to read about progress being made: