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Incidence of skin cancer up 92 pc in 10 years

An increase of 92 per cent in skin cancer cases across all age groups between 1998 and 2008 has been partly attributed to the growth of foreign package holidays and the use of sunbeds.

Irish Cancer Society (ICS) promotion manager Norma Cronin said the “soaring increase” in melanoma was indicative of an approach when tanning behaviour meant “sunburn before suntan”, and when sunbeds arrived in Ireland.

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The ICS today started an information campaign to combat the spread of the disease following the publication of figures showing a 152 per cent increase of melanoma in men over 60 years-of-age and an increase of 82 per cent in women in the same age category during the ten-year period.

The campaign aims to raise public awareness about the disease and highlight the importance of prevention and early detection.

According to figures released by the National Cancer Registry of Ireland (NCRI), the 393 cases of melanoma recorded in Ireland in 1998 rose to 756 cases in 2008, an increase of 92 per cent.

Of the cases diagnosed in 2008, 139 cases were in the 60 to 69-year-old age group and 274 cases were in the over 70s age group, which means that 55 per cent of skin cancer cases were in the over 60s age group.

One hundred and ninety-five people died from melanoma in 2008 across all age groups.

Melanoma skin cancer develops in cells in the outer layers of the skin and can grow from a mole, freckle or a normal part of the skin. It is considered the most dangerous and difficult to treat form of skin cancer.

Eighty to ninety per cent of all cases are caused by the ultraviolet rays of the sun.

The ‘SunSmart Code’ advises people to stay safe in the sun and reduce the risk of developing skin cancer by taking precautions such as covering the skin and frequent use of high protection sunscreen (SPF of 15 or higher and UVA protection).

For further information on skin cancer prevention, early detection and the dangers of sunbeds call the National Cancer Helpline on Freefone 1800 200 700 which is staffed by specialist nurses Monday-Thursday from 9am to 7pm and Fridays from 9am - 5pm.