Official figures collated by Public Health England on hospital admissions for skin cancer are to be highlighted at the World Congress on Cancers of the Skin later this week. The data reported today (2 September 2014) shows an alarming increase. 

Between 2007 and 2011 the number of patients admitted to hospital rose dramatically. Those with the most serious cases of skin cancer – malignant melanoma – increased by nearly a third and other skin cancers rose by over 40%. 

The latest available data is for 2011, when over 120,000 patients were admitted to hospital for skin cancer treatment. The cost to the NHS was almost £100 million. This excludes patients treated in GP surgeries or as out-patients.

Experts say the majority of skin cancer cases could be avoided if people took greater responsibility for protecting their skin from UV rays, for example, by applying effective sunscreen.  Sunburn doubles the risk of skin cancer.

Numerous campaigns have significantly increased public awareness of the damage the sun can cause to skin. Even so, this latest data highlights that people are not doing enough.  More affordable overseas holidays and the fashionable tanned look have had a major impact. The increase in cases of skin cancer is particularly marked among men aged over 60 years. The cancers most commonly occur on the head and neck, where the early signs are less likely to be spotted.