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VIDEO: Skin Cancer Cases Double National Average

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Published by the Pirate FM News Team at 6:02am 16th June 2014

Pirate FM has learnt more than 200 people a year in Cornwall are being diagnosed with the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

New stats show the Duchy, Devon and Somerset have double the danger of developing the disease.

Now local GPs are set to appear in adverts - urging us to know the signs and to emphasise that a change to a mole is not the only sign.

Latest figures reveal that those diagnosed with melanoma, the most serious form of the disease, one in four does not survive beyond five years.

Professor Debra Lapthorne from Public Health England in the southwest said: “Statistics show that those living in the Devon, Cornwall and Somerset area are at an increased risk of developing skin cancer compared to the rest of England.

"There could be any number of reasons for this but it’s likely to be due to a high number of outdoor jobs and leisure pursuits as well as an older population. We are committed to raising awareness of the key signs of the disease, to encourage earlier diagnosis, when treatment is more likely to be successful.

“The campaign message is clear, if you notice any unusual or persistent changes to your skin, you should visit your doctor.”

Certain people are more at risk of getting skin cancer but knowledge of some of these risks is low. Only one in three in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset know that people with lots of moles and freckles are more likely to get skin cancer and similarly only 32% are aware that a family history of skin cancer increases risk.

Of those diagnosed with melanoma in Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, four in five are over the age of 50, making this the target age group for the campaign. The campaign also focuses on men in the area, who are more likely to die from the disease than women. Disturbingly, men are much less worried about developing the disease, with only one in three (34%) saying they are worried compared with over half of women (56%).5

British comedy actress Morwenna Banks, who was born in Cornwall, said: "Growing up in Cornwall, I learned that the sun could burn your skin. I later learned that childhood sunburn could become adult skin damage.  And now we know that you become increasingly vulnerable to skin cancer with age. I would urge everyone to learn what to look for. Know the warning signs  - a change to a mole isn’t the only one. Any unusual changes to your skin should be noted – and if in doubt take swift action. See your GP. Be Clear on Cancer."

Doctors say, if you develop a lump, lesion or skin discolouration that has not healed after four weeks you should see your GP.

Keep an eye on moles and follow an ABCDE checklist...

A stands for asymmetrical – melanomas have two very different halves and are an irregular shape.
B stands for border – unlike a normal mole, melanomas have a notched or ragged border.
C stands for colours – melanomas will be a mix of two or more colours.
D stands for diameter – unlike most moles, melanomas are larger than 6mm (1/4 inch) in diameter.
E stands for enlargement or evolution – a mole that changes characteristics and size over time is more likely to be a melanoma.

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