Ireland sees 75 per cent rise in melanoma in women under 50

In collaboration with the Press Association

There has been a 36 per cent rise in the number of skin cancer cases in Ireland over the past ten years, new figures published by the Irish Cancer Society show.

This includes a large increase in the number of people diagnosed with melanoma - the deadliest form of the disease - particularly among women under the age of 50, who experienced a 75 per cent rise in cases.

Figures from the National Cancer Registry of Ireland (NCRI) show that there were 7,743 new cases of skin cancer in 2007, including 667 instances of malignant melanoma and 7,076 of non-melanoma skin cancer.

 

This compares with just 5,687 new cases of skin cancer in 1997.

Between 1997 and 2007, the number of cases of malignant melanoma in men increased by 84 per cent to 313, while the corresponding figure for women rose by 48 per cent to 354.

During the same period, the number of non-melanoma skin cancers rose by 32 per cent in men and 36 per cent in women.

The Irish Cancer Society published the figures to coincide with the launch of its 2009 SunSmart campaign.

Health protection manager Norma Cronin commented: "People may think that skin cancer happens in other countries, not in Ireland due to our climate. But 80 to 85 per cent of UV rays pass through clouds and Ireland has the third highest rate of malignant melanoma in the EU.

"You may be outdoors watching sport, doing the gardening or just sitting in the park. Don't let UV rays catch you out.

"It is also important that you check your own skin regularly and look out for any changes that occur in the skin. If you notice a mole change in shape, colour or size, get it checked by your GP."

According to the Irish Cancer Society, 80 to 90 per cent of all skin cancers are caused by the sun's UV rays and could therefore be prevented if people took care of their skin and did not use sunbeds.

People are advised to spend time in the shade in the middle of the day, to wear a t-shirt, hat and sunglasses, and to use at least factor 15 sunscreen.

Henry Scowcroft, science information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: "This mirrors the rise we've seen in the UK, and underlines why both Cancer Research UK and the Irish Cancer Society are running sun awareness campaigns."