Melanoma Skin Cancer Cases on the Rise in the UK

The number of melanoma skin cancer cases in the UK has reached an all-time high, with projections of 20,800 new diagnoses expected this year. According to Cancer Research UK, rates of melanoma have spiked by almost a third over the past decade. Between the periods of 2007-2009 and 2017-2019, rates rose from 21 to 28 cases per 100,000 individuals. The concerning trend of increasing cases is evident across all age groups, with the most significant rise observed in adults over the age of 80, showing a 57% surge in diagnoses over the past ten years.

Cancer Research UK emphasizes that approximately 17,000 cases of melanoma each year are preventable, with nearly 90% of cases attributed to excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Whether from the sun or tanning beds, UV radiation can induce damage to the DNA in skin cells, leading to the development of skin cancer. In light of these findings, the charity advocates for protective measures such as seeking shade, wearing protective clothing, wide-brimmed hats, UV-protection sunglasses, and sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 and a high-star rating.

Caroline Jones, a postmistress from Shrewsbury, who discovered a cancerous mole-like blemish above her knee, underscores the importance of early detection. Jones, who lost her mother to cancer at a young age, stresses the significance of vigilance when it comes to skin health. After observing the anomaly on her skin and undergoing a biopsy, she emphasizes the need for individuals to promptly seek medical attention if they notice any unusual changes on their skin. Highlighting her personal experience, Jones urges the public not to delay seeking help, as early detection can significantly impact the outcome.

Despite the rising number of melanoma cases, there is a positive trajectory in survival rates, with a decline in expected deaths. Cancer Research UK reports that nearly 90% of adults diagnosed with melanoma in England can anticipate surviving the disease for ten years or more. Younger individuals are shown to be more knowledgeable about the association between sun exposure and skin cancer in comparison to older generations, who may have engaged in frequent sun exposure during previous decades. Factors contributing to the surge in cases include demographic shifts, heightened awareness of skin cancer symptoms, and advancements in healthcare.

Exciting advancements in cancer treatment were recently unveiled, with the introduction of a personalized mRNA cancer jab targeting melanoma. This groundbreaking treatment, tailored to each patient within a short timeframe, has exhibited promise in reducing the likelihood of cancer recurrence among melanoma patients. A joint effort by pharmaceutical companies Moderna and MSD, the stage-2 trial of the jab displayed significant efficacy, prompting the initiation of a phase-3 trial spearheaded by University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH). These developments offer hope for a breakthrough in cancer treatment and underline the crucial role of research in combating the disease.


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