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1 in 4 'never check for skin cancer'

WebMD UK Health News Brief
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks
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7th February 2018 – Almost a quarter of people in the UK are ignoring signs they may be at an increased risk of skin cancer, according to a charity.

A survey by the British Skin Foundation and skin checking app Miiskin found that 23% of adults say they have never checked for changes in appearance or number of moles, which can be a warning sign of the disease.

Skin cancer on the rise

Skin cancer is the UK's most common and fastest rising cancer. It is mainly caused by over-exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light.

Non-melanoma skin cancers are the most common, with melanoma being one of the most dangerous. More than 100,000 new cases are diagnosed annually, and the disease leads to 2,500 deaths each year. Latest figures compiled by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicate a 35.8% 10-year rise in skin cancer deaths.

Survey results

Miiskin commissioned pollsters Walnut Unlimited to survey a nationally representative sample of 2,027 adult last month. It found that:

  • 3% had a mole they'd been concerned about for more than 3 months but had not had it checked out by a health professional
  • 17% of those under 35 thought they were too young or hadn't had enough exposure to the sun to be at risk of skin cancer
  • 9% of under 45's thought they should check their skin only if advised by a health professional

The poll suggests people are still taking risks with the health of their skin, with 11% using tanning beds, of which 13% say they use them at least once a week.

Mole checking 'selfies'

However, the survey also revealed growing awareness of skin cancer symptoms with 31% doing monthly checks – the frequency recommended by the British Skin Foundation. And among younger people, 18% say they take 'selfies' to monitor any changes to moles.

Dr Anton Alexandroff, consultant dermatologist and spokesperson for the British Skin Foundation, says in a statement: "It’s important that people monitor their own skin regularly, to help track any changes which could be worrying.

"If any changes are noticed, the user can then visit their dermatologist for a medical assessment."

The founder of the Miiskin app, which has been downloaded 20,000 times in the UK, says technology can help people monitor skin changes but they should always seek medical advice if they have any concerns.

Reviewed on February 07, 2018

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