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Skin Cancer Rates Up 5 Times Since the 1970s in the UK

Update Date: Apr 22, 2014 09:27 AM EDT

The latest numbers reveal that the most dangerous kind of skin cancer, melanoma, has spiked dramatically over the past few decades. Cancer Research UK is reporting that since the 1970s, the incidence rate of malignant melanoma has increased five times. Now, more than 13,000 people are diagnosed with this type of cancer in comparison to the roughly 1,800 cases back then.

"Since the mid-1970s, malignant melanoma incidence rates in the UK have increased more rapidly than for any of today's 10 most common cancers," Nick Ormiston-Smith, head of statistics at Cancer Research UK, said reported by BBC News. "Holidays in hot climates have become more affordable and sunbeds are more widely available since the 1970s. But we know overexposure to UV rays from the sun or sunbeds is the main cause of skin cancer."

Cancer Research UK believes that the surge in skin cancer cases was caused by the growing trend of package vacations to other parts of Europe. The combination of these affordable trips to sunny areas and the lack of sunscreen use can greatly increase people's risk of skin cancer. Furthermore, the charity noted that sunbed use has also gained popularity over the past few years with more and more people wanting that tanned skin look.

In the UK, 17 people out of 100,000 develop malignant melanoma. Back in the mid-1970s, the incidence rate was three out of every 100,000 people. Now, malignant melanoma is the fifth most common type of cancer with the death rate at around 2,000 per year. Despite the rise in skin cancer cases, survival rates have increased.

"The good news for those that are diagnosed, is that survival for the disease is amongst the highest for any cancer, more than 8 in 10 people will now survive it," Ormiston-Smith added according to WebMD.

The charity stressed the importance of using sunscreen everyday. People with pale skin, freckles, moles, or a family history of skin cancer are at the greatest risk of developing skin cancer and should take extra care in shielding their skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

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