Under the Skin: Burning as a child can increase your skin cancer risk by 80%

Rate of skin cancer in 20 to 49-year-olds have increased by almost a fifth. Mark Sims was diagnosed aged just 15 Credit: ITV West Country

There has been a shocking rise in the number of people in our region being diagnosed with skin cancer.

Doctors say it's not just older generations affected - and, in fact, in the last decade rates for 20 to 49-year-olds have increased by almost a fifth.

Many experts claim it was the boom of the package deals back in the 70s and 80s which may have caused a rise in young people with skin cancer.


The increase in skin cancer diagnosis in 20 to 49-year-olds.

Our own Kylie Pentelow has been looking into the increase in a special investigation - Under the Skin.

In the first part she's been speaking to patients and the specialist team who are now warning getting burnt as a child can increase your risk of getting skin cancer by 80%.

Mark Sims from Bristol was diagnosed with melanoma at the age of 15 and was warned it could come back.

He trained to be a doctor to try to help others, but then last year, at the age of 27, news he was dreading - the skin cancer had returned.

I have cancer in my brain, my liver, my gallbladder, my spleen and my lung. The prognosis is still not very good.

Christopher Herbert, Skin cancer consultant, Bristol Oncology

Experts are concerned about the rise in melanoma - skin cancer that can spread to other parts of the body.

We certainly know that there's been a four-fold increase in the incidence of melanoma since the 1970s and whilst 50% of patients will be over the age of 65 we're seeing an increasing number of younger patients who are presenting.

Professor Martin Gore, Consultant Medical Oncologist
Mark Sims was diagnosed with Melanoma at just 15-years-old Credit: Mark Sims

This means tanning, and burning, as a child could now ben taking its toll.


The increased risk of skin cancer if you get burnt as a child.

As a doctor Mark knows all too well the risks and the treatment options Now too poorly to work, he's raised tens of thousands of pounds for research.

"I can see that money being useful on a patient level probably in 5 or 6 years' time. If I get to see that point I'll be amazed and I'll be very grateful for all the research that's been done. Sometimes people think skin cancer, you just cut it out. Melanoma burrows down, spreads, and kills people quickly and in horrible ways."

A clear and stark warning of how being careless in the sun could change your life forever.