Only about 1,800 people in the United Kingdom had malignant melanoma in 1975 but the number of people who develop the disease has skyrocketed in years as more than 13,000 now develop the disease per year.
Melanoma is considered as a serious type of skin cancer and is one of the leading causes of skin-disease related deaths. The disease often begins in the skin but can spread to other parts of the body. Sunburn and use of sunbeds is known to elevate risks of the disease. People with pale skin, have lots freckles and moles and those with family history of cancer are particularly at high risk of developing the disease.
The Cancer Research UK (CRUK), a cancer research organization which aims to reduce the number of cancer-related deaths, reported that the incidence rate of melanoma has now increased five times from its rate 40 years ago. The disease used to affect only three in 100,000 individuals in the 1970's but the rate has now gone up with 17 per 100,000 people. Malignant melanoma is currently one of the most prevalent forms of cancer in the UK with over 2,000 people dying from the disease per year.
A spokesman for the organization said that the growing prevalence of skin cancer is partly due to the boom in more affordable holidays to sunny destinations and the trend in tanned skins which raised the popularity of tanning beds. The availability of better cancer detection methods may have also led to a rise in the number of individuals who get diagnosed of the disease.
The Cancer Research UK encourages people to observe safety precautions when exposing themselves to the sun. The organization advises people to avoid sunburn, spend time in the shade, cover up and use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. It also noted the risks of using sunbeds particularly in young people. Cancer Research UK director of early diagnosis Sara Hiom said that using sunbeds before age 35 increases a person's risk of malignant melanoma by almost 60 percent.
"We know overexposure to UV rays from the sun or sunbeds is the main cause of skin cancer. This means, in many cases, the disease can be prevented, so it's essential to get into good sun safety habits, whether at home or abroad," said Cancer Research UK spokeswoman for Scotland Lisa Adams.