Britons are unaware of the risks of skin cancer and this is believed to be the reason why there is difficulty slowing down the rise in skin cancer.
We're failing to protect ourselves and our children, and unable to recognise potentially harmful symptoms, according to a new study.
The figures come as data from Nuffield Health’s UK hospitals show a 16 per cent rise in skin cancer cases among 16-34 year olds since 2007.
The survey of 2086 people by YouGov for Nuffield Health, shows that almost half of Britons believe their personal risk of skin cancer to be low or non existent. In the older population there is confusion about who the disease affects, and when.
Mr Paul Banwell, Consultant Plastic Surgeon at Nuffield Health Brighton Hospital, said: “There is an inherent naivety among people in the UK about the risks of skin cancer. Because we live in a climate with relatively little sunshine and lots of rain people believe they are not at risk, but this is a fallacy. These are often the people who spend lots of time outside or who fail to protect themselves in the sun, and who later on in life are utterly shocked to discover they are suffering the consequences.
“The biggest predictor for skin cancer later in life is sun burn when you are young; whether it materialises in your early 20s or in your 60s. Sadly, sun awareness and skin checks are not part of our education, and this needs to be addressed as a priority.”
Figures show that just over half of 16-24 year olds and just over two thirds of 25-34 year olds know that their age groups are at risk of the disease, despite it being the second most common cancer affecting these age groups.
Many Britons, particularly men, struggle to recognise changes to the skin which should be checked by a GP or skin specialist. More than a third of people said they were not confident they could identify potentially harmful symptoms.
Dr Walayat Hussain, Consultant Dermatologist & Dermatological Surgeon at Nuffield Health Leeds, said: “Skin cancer can affect anyone at any time and can be a particularly aggressive disease. Unfortunately, awareness is generally low, so that by the time a patient is referred they may have been living with the disease, undiagnosed for some time. A skin check by a doctor is painless and quick and should be part of the routine of anyone who spends lots of time outside. Being familiar with what’s on your skin means you will notice any small changes and seek early treatment if necessary.”
Figures show, that for many Britons, a sun tan is still a sign of health and wellbeing, with almost half saying they look healthier, while a fifth said they look more attractive with one.
Experts say repeated sunburn, especially in childhood, can significantly increase the risk of skin cancer, but despite this, almost a third of people say they burn once a year or more, rising to half of all 16-24 year olds.
Femalefirst Taryn Davies