Skin-cancer diagnoses hit record high

The number of people diagnosed each year with the deadliest form of skin cancer has topped 10,000, figures showed today.

Binge tanning at home and abroad has contributed to the rise in people developing malignant melanoma, according to Cancer Research UK.

The number of cases rose by more than 650 in one year, taking the total to 10,410 in 2006 - the most recent figure available.

Experts from the charity predict this number will rise to more than 15,500 by 2024, making malignant melanoma the fourth most common cancer among men and women.

Rates of the deadly cancer have more than quadrupled over the last 30 years, from 3.4 cases per 100,000 people in 1977 to 14.7 per 100,000 in 2006.

Women are more likely to be diagnosed than men - 5,600 are diagnosed each year compared with 4,800 men.

However, men are more likely to die from the cancer and rates among them have risen fivefold whereas in women they have more than tripled.

Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK's director of health information, said: "These figures show that a worrying number of people are being diagnosed with this potentially fatal disease.

"With the rates of malignant melanoma in the UK rising faster than any other cancer, it's more important than ever that people are aware of the dangers of getting burnt, either in the sun or from using sunbeds.

"Most melanoma skin cancers are caused by over exposure to UV rays given off by the sun and sunbeds.

"But, crucially, if people are careful not to redden or burn, especially if they have fair, freckly or moley skin then most cases of malignant melanoma could be prevented.

"We advise people to enjoy the sun safely by spending time in the shade in the middle of the day, covering up with appropriate cool clothing and sunglasses and applying plenty of sun cream of at least factor 15."