July 18, 2019
2 min read

Skin cancer rates increase 45% in UK since 2004

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Melanoma skin cancer rates have increased by 35% for women and by 55% for men in the United Kingdom since 2004, which represents a 45% increase in the incidence rate, according to research from Cancer Research UK.

Although melanoma is still more common in adults older than 65 years, the rates for patients aged 25 to 49 years have increased by 70% since the 1990s, according to the press release.

The awareness of melanoma is increasing, and more people are being diagnosed and treated. Melanoma is the second most common cancer in those aged 25 to 49 years and the fifth most common cancer in the U.K.

Nearly 90% of melanoma cases could be prevented if people took more initiative to take care of their skin while in the sun. A sunburn just once every 2 years can triple the risk for melanoma, according to the release.

The group announced the data with the launch of its Own Your Tone campaign, to encourage people to embrace their natural skin tone and protect their skin from sun damage. The media campaign offers tips on how to protect skin in the sun, debunks sun safety myths and additional articles and insight to #ownyourtone.

As for in the U.S., the rates of melanoma have been rising for the last 30 years, according to the American Cancer Society, which estimates there will be 96,480 new cases of melanoma of the skin this year. Melanoma is more than 20 times more common in white people than in black people. The lifetime risk of getting melanoma is about 2.6% for white people, 0.1% for black people and 0.58% for Hispanic people.

The average age of diagnosis in the U.S. is 63 years, but melanoma is not uncommon even in those younger than 30 years. About 7,230 people are estimated to die of melanoma this year, around 4,740 men and 2,490 women, according to the American Cancer Society.

“[While] the racial gap in cancer mortality is slowly narrowing, socioeconomic inequalities are widening with the most notable gaps for the most preventable cancers,” according to Rebecca L. Siegel, MPH, scientific director of surveillance research at the American Cancer Society, and colleagues wrote in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians earlier this year.

The 5-year relative survival rate of all stages combined in melanoma of the skin is 92%, second to prostate cancer at 98%, according to Siegel and colleagues.

Black patients have the largest disparities in survival rates for melanoma (26%), due to diagnosis at a much later stage, they wrote.

“Although the racial gap in cancer mortality is slowly narrowing, socioeconomic inequalities are widening, with residents of the poorest countries experiencing an increasingly disproportionate burden of the most preventable cancers,” Siegel and colleagues wrote. – by Abigail Sutton


Editor's note: The headline has been changed to reflect the correct time period of the skin cancer statistics.



Siegel RL, et al. CA Cancer J Clin. 2019;doi:10.3322/caac.21551.


Disclosures: Siegel and colleagues are employed by the American Cancer Society.