Skin cancer hits 200,000 – twice the official toll: Disease is far greater risk to nation's health than was previously thought
Cases of basal cell carcinomas have risen by 80 per cent in a decade The cost to the NHS is likely to be more than 200million a year
00:15 GMT, 15 April 2013
00:22 GMT, 15 April 2013
There are now believed to be more than 200,000 cases of basal cell carcinomas, or BCCs, a year, pictured here on the skin
Skin cancer is a far greater threat to the nation’s health than was previously thought, a new study has revealed.
The number of cases of the most common type of skin cancer is approximately double the level shown by Whitehall figures.
It is nearly as common as all other cancers put together.
There are now believed to be more than 200,000 cases of basal cell carcinomas, or BCCs, a year.
Cases of this form of cancer, which is treatable by surgery, have risen by 80 per cent in a decade.
cost of treating each case is around 1,000 and although the success
rate for surgery is high, the cost to the NHS is likely to be more than
200million a year.
Shergill, a dermatologist at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals
NHS Trust, said he was seeing more cases of skin cancer – and the number
of patients are ‘projected to keep on increasing’.
He added: ‘It is thought that this is due to a number of factors,
including people living longer, and greater exposure to the sun through
outdoor hobbies, travel and package holidays, and so on.’
research was carried out by doctors from Norfolk and Norwich University
Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Eastern Cancer Registration Centre
Their report said: ‘Our study shows that the number of basal cell carcinomas in the UK is approximately twice that indicated by Government statistics.
‘The effects on population health and on costs to the health services of basal cell skin carcinomas should be recognised.
‘Resources to prevent, diagnose and manage the disease should be prioritised to help control BCC, which now appears to be the commonest malignant disease in the UK.’
Worse than first thought: Image showing how basal cell carcinoma affects the skin surface
Problems with accurately identifying cases and difficulties collecting data mean BCC figures are excluded from official national statistics.
‘Unfortunately, this means that the commonest cancer in the UK is often overlooked by politicians, the public and the media,’ added the report.
However, BCC is rarely fatal. Though it accounts for around 75 per cent of all skin cancers, surgery to remove the tumour and surrounding skin is successful in 90 per cent of cases.
BCC develops on the outermost layers of the skin and is linked to an overexposure to ultraviolet light.
The study showed that BCCs occur ‘predominantly on sun-exposed areas of elderly people with lighter skin’.