Skin cancer cases hit a record high in England

·2-min read
(Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)
(Steve Parsons/PA) (PA Wire)

Skin cancer cases have hit a record level in England, with around one in five people affected during their lifetime, data suggests.

There were 224,000 skin cancers recorded in England in 2019 and more than 1.4 million between 2013 and 2019, according to figures analysed by NHS Digital and the British Association of Dermatologists.

The data suggests a 26% rise in recorded cases, from 177,677 in 2013 to 224,092 in 2019.

Experts believe an ageing population and improvements to how cancers are reported are behind the rise.

Increasing exposure to the sun and people going on foreign holidays may also be to blame.

A breakdown shows there were 15,332 melanomas in 2019, up from 12,885 in 2013.

Melanoma is less common than some other types of skin cancer, but can be more deadly and more likely to spread.

There were also 47,977 cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas in 2019, up from 34,672 in 2013.

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer and, when caught early, is mostly curable.

The data found there were 158,934 basal cell carcinomas in 2019, up from 128,406 in 2013.

Basal cell carcinoma does not usually spread. It often appears as a small, shiny pink or pearly-white lump with a translucent or waxy appearance. It can also look like a red, scaly patch.

There were 1,849 rare skin cancers in 2019, up from 1,714 in 2013.

Data on life expectancy after a cancer diagnosis shows that around 100% of people whose melanoma is caught early are still alive five years later.

But at the most advanced stage, this drops to 25%.

We estimate that one in five people will have a skin cancer in their lifetime

Dr Tanya Bleiker

Dr Tanya Bleiker, president of the British Association of Dermatologists, said: “We are fast approaching a quarter of a million skin cancer cases a year in England.

“To put this in context, we estimate that one in five people will have a skin cancer in their lifetime.

“While more needs to be done to prevent skin cancer in this country, we also need to increase the resources available to tackle the rise in cases.

“Currently, it is estimated that there is the equivalent of 508 full-time consultant dermatologists working in England.

“If these doctors and their colleagues are to meet the challenge of managing a quarter of million skin cancer cases a year, then they will need more resources and better workforce planning.”