Malignant melanoma now most common cancer in under-30s
A dangerous obsession with achieving the perfect tan is causing a rapid increase in skin cancer among young women, the latest figures suggest.
Malignant melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer, has overtaken cancers of the cervix and breast to become the most common cancer diagnosed in women under 30. “We can now see there definitely is a trend for malignant melanoma overtaking cervical cancer for women in their twenties,” a spokesman for Cancer Research UK said.
An estimated 340 women in their twenties now have melanoma diagnosed in Britain every year — nearly double the number to have breast cancer diagnosed at a similar age, according to the charity.
Across all age groups, the disease causes 1,800 deaths a year — twice the number in Australia, where the dangers of excess exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays have been well publicised in public health campaigns for nearly 30 years.
The disease is mainly identified by a fast-growing, irregular dark spot on previously normal skin or in an existing mole that changes in size, colour or texture. Most cases are preventable — as about 80 per cent are caused by exposure to sunlight or UV radiation.
Experts warned people of all ages to stay away from sunbeds and to use a high-factor sun lotion in the sun, to be careful not to get burnt and to take extra care of children. Nina Goad, of the British Association of Dermatologists, said: ‘The fashion for tanned skin is prompting young women to put their health at risk in a bid to look bronzed.
‘Sunbeds are not a safe alternative to sunbathing, and the fact that children can easily access them is a worry. That’s why we want to see a ban on coin-operated sunbeds and a ban on sunbeds for under-18s.’
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