Extended periods of sunshine may be as difficult as ever to predict during the Great British summer – but that gives us all the more reason to keep in mind our risk of skin cancer.
When the weather is hot and sunny, the intense UV radiation from the sun’s rays can pose a very real threat and adequate sun protection is required. Variable weather can lull us into a false sense of security, however, with cloudy or rainy periods making is feel we don’t need to bother with sun protection. Even short periods of exposure can put us at risk, however.
Cigna UK HealthCare Benefits (Cigna) and SkinHealth UK have formed an alliance to offer Cigna customers skin cancer diagnostics beginning June 2016. This new service offers customers rapid access to skin cancer specialists.
New research shows that 25 percent of all cancer sufferers see their General Practitioner (GP) three times before being referred for further tests.¹ With Cigna’s new service, customers can self-refer for a skin cancer diagnostic appointment within five working days.
The incidence of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer continues to rise, with 14,509 cases of melanoma registered in the UK in 2013. The incidence of non-melanoma skin cancer is not currently recorded in the UK, but it is in excess of 100,000 per annum and rising. Despite much publicity about the risk of exposure to UV radiation, figures from the Heath & Safety Executive indicate that in the near future exposure to solar radiation will become one of the main causes of occupational cancer.
To mark Skin Cancer Awareness Month (May), Per Hall, Clinical Advisor for SkinHealth UK, talks about skin cancer awareness, risk factors and how our attitudes need to change.
People have become much more aware of the dangers of UV exposure in recent years, and the precautions we can take against it are relatively simple – but are people as aware as they should be?
Whilst we often complain about grey winter days, winter sun can bring hidden dangers – especially for those enjoying winter sports.
According to Cancer Research UK there is strong evidence to show that overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the main preventable cause of skin cancers – both malignant melanoma and non- melanoma skin cancers (NMSC). Sunbeds produce artificial UV radiation, but the sun is the principal source of natural UV radiation. A study published in 2011 estimated that 86% of melanomas in the UK (around 11,100 cases) every year are linked to too much exposure to sunlight and sunbed use.
Earlier this year, we reported on the new cancer task force, set up to combat long waiting times for diagnoses in England – 25% of which were being made too late. Now, further plans have been unveiled, including a target of 95% of people being given a diagnosis or the all-clear within 28 days of being referred by their GP, by 2020.
Figures released in May showed that more than 21,000 people had not been treated within 62 days of their cancer diagnosis in the last financial year, and the NHS had failed to achieve its own targets for treatment. According to these, 85% of cancer patients should be treated within 62 days of being urgently referred by their GP, but just 83.4% were seen on time in 2014-15. While survival rates have been improving, England still lags behind some of the best performing countries. A cross-party committee of MPs recently warned that England’s cancer services had “lost momentum”.
This summer in the UK has seen days of intense sun alternate with grey skies with startling rapidity. Whilst we might think we’re more at risk from long periods of unrelenting sun, it’s often when it is intermittent that we become more lax – and we cannot afford to be.
Approximately 13,300 people are diagnosed with malignant melanoma in the UK each year, making it the fifth most widespread cancer. It is also the second most common cancer in young adults (aged 15-34) and 2,100 people die from the disease each year. It is far from being a young person’s disease, however.
This week, the BBC reports on new research findings that demonstrate how even light consumption of alcohol can increase cancer risk – but the risk primarily affects women.
The US research, published in the British Medical Journal this month, is titled “Light to moderate intake of alcohol, drinking patterns, and risk of cancer” and sets out “to quantify risk of overall cancer across all levels of alcohol consumption among women and men separately, with a focus on light to moderate drinking and never smokers; and assess the influence of drinking patterns on overall cancer risk.”
A new study has revealed that almost a quarter of cancer patients had to make at least three visits to their GP before being sent to hospital for tests that diagnosed their illness.
The research – published in the European Journal of Cancer Care – was undertaken by academics at Cambridge University who studied the experiences of more than 70,000 patients. They found that a total of 23% had been seen by their GP three or more times before being referred to hospital for further scans, blood tests or investigations which diagnosed the illness.
This week, the BBC reports on new guidelines for diagnosing and treating melanoma skin cancers that have been issued to the NHS in England.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued the guidelines to help end “a wide variation in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease”. They include advice on diagnosing how far the cancer has progressed, on identifying the best treatment and suggest improvements to follow-up care.