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Increase in skin cancer hospital admissions

WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Keith David Barnard

2nd September 2014 – A new study has found that hospital admissions for treating skin cancer in England have soared by about 41% in just 5 years.

Researchers at Public Health England found that hospital admissions rose from 87,685 in 2007 to 123,808 in 2011 – and these figures do not include treatment in outpatient units or by GPs.

The surge in skin cancer hospital admissions has led to an annual overall spend in 2011 of more than £95 million on inpatient skin cancer care.

The study is being presented this week at the World Congress on Cancers of the Skin in Edinburgh.

In a separate study, which is also being presented at the conference, the incidence of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer in Scotland was found to have increased 273% since 1990, despite the fact that between 2009 and 2010 there was a 1% fall in the incidence rate.

This study is based on data from the Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland.

Skin cancers are the most common form of cancer in England. There are two types of skin cancer:

  • Malignant melanoma is the less common type. However, it is a much more serious disease. Hospital admissions for this type increased in England from 11,157 in 2007 to 14,475 in 2011, an increase of about 30%.
  • Non-melanoma skin cancer is more common but not as serious. Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are two common subtypes of non-melanoma cancer. Hospital admissions for non-melanoma cancer in England increased substantially from 76,528 in 2007 to 109,333 in 2011 – a rise of about 43%.

Julia Verne, a director at Public Health England, says in a statement: "The number of procedures required to meet the demands are increasing at a significant rate. Surgery was required for 78% of non-melanoma skin cancers and 71.5% of melanomas.

"Over 16,000 skin grafts and flaps were required for the treatment of skin cancer in 2011 and the majority are on the head and neck."

In a statement, Sarah Williams, senior health information office at Cancer Research UK, comments: "Over the last 30 years, rates of malignant melanoma –the most serious form of skin cancer – in Great Britain have risen faster than any of the 10 most common cancers and so these figures are part of a longer term trend.

Changes to where patients are treated may have added to the size of this increase in hospital treatment for skin cancer, but it's worrying to see rising rates of a disease that could largely be prevented."

How common is skin cancer?

According to Cancer Research UK, 13,348 people in the UK were diagnosed with malignant melanoma skin cancer in 2011 – about 37 people every day – and in the same year there were 2,209 deaths from the disease.

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