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  1. ITV Report

Skin cancer on the rise among middle-aged people in the South West

Bad sunburn can be responsible for skin cancer in later life Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

The number of people in their 50s being diagnosed with skin cancer in the South West is higher than the national average. According to Cancer Research UK,

  • Around four people in their 50s in the South West are diagnosed with the most dangerous form of cancer, malignant melanoma, every week.
  • The number of diagnoses across Britain for people in their 50s has more than tripled over the last 30 years.
  • 30 years ago malignant melanoma was the 17th most common cancer among people in their 50s in Britain. Now it is the fifth most common.
  • In the South West, 1,400 people of all ages are diagnosed with malignant melanoma every year. Around 250 die from the disease

Angela Nicholson, 44, from Burnham on Sea, knows from personal experience the importance of spotting skin cancer early.

The nurse from Musgrove Hospital in Taunton was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 2002 aged 35.

I've not been a regular sun worshipper but I did spend holidays in my childhood in Cornwall on its beaches and spending a fair bit of time outdoors. I only remember getting burnt once on my back.

Back in 2002 I noticed a prickly sensation on my back when I rubbed the towel against my back. I knew I had a mole and decided to get it checked out.

I was told it needed to be removed which left a two inch scar. Ten days later test results came back and I was told I needed a second operation as it was malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.

I know if my cancer hadn't been caught early, things could have been very different for me. All too often cancer is detected further down the line when effective treatment becomes more difficult.

– ANGELA NICHOLSON, SKIN CANCER SURVIVOR
People should not only protect themselves from the sun but watch out for the early signs of skin cancer AP Photo/J Pat Carter Credit: AP Photo/J Pat Carter

This summer, Cancer Research UK are working to get people to recognise the warning signs of skin cancer. They are putting out leaflets in pharmacies and cafes in branches of Tesco.

If people are diagnosed when the cancer is in the early stages, before it has had a chance to spread around the body, treatment is more likely to be successful.

Through our campaign with Tesco, we want to highlight the signs and symptoms of skin cancer to people in the South West, and encourage them to visit their doctor promptly if they notice any unusual changes in their skin.

– HELEN JOHNSTONE, CANCER RESEARCH UK

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