Cancer Research reveals tripling melanoma rates

More than two people under the age of 35 in Britain are diagnosed with malignant melanoma every day, according to the latest figures from charity Cancer Research UK.

The figures were revealed alongside the introduction of new rules in England and Wales that stipulate banning the use of sunbeds by those under the age of 18.

Cancer Research UK’s SunSmart campaign said it had seen an “alarming” tripling in melanoma rates among British people aged between 15 and 34 since the late 1970s.

In the late 1970s, there were aro­und 290 cases of melanoma among those aged between 15 and 34. Now, more than 900 young Britons are being diagnosed with the disease each year, which is more than two cases a day.

Moreover, 30 years ago there were 1.8 cases of melanoma per 100,000 people in this age group; now it is 5.9 cases per 100,000.

The latest available figures also showed that the total number of cases of malignant melanoma for all ages increased from 10,800 in 2007 to 11,700 in 2008 – a rise of 8.5%.

Caroline Cerny, Cancer Research UK’s SunSmart campaign manager, said: “It’s very worrying to see that the number of young adults being diagnosed with this potentially fatal disease has risen so dramatically, especially since cancer is typically a disease that affects older people.”

The Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010, which came into force in April 2011, will make it illegal for those under the age of 18 in England and Wales to use sunbeds on commercial premises.

Businesses that flout the new law could face fines of up to £20,000. The law brings England and Wales into line with Scotland, which already has legislation in place on this, while Northern Ireland has also proposed a ban.

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