Melanoma In Detail

These facts are from the latest statistical survey carried out into skin cancer (2008).  It is worth bearing in mind that given the growth rate of this cancer the numbers will undoubtedly be greater for 2012.

FACT – There are 2 main types of skin cancer; the less common but more serious Malignant Melanoma and non-melanoma which is more prevalent but less dangerous.

FACT – Around 12,000 cases of Melanoma were diagnosed in the UK in 2008

FACT – Melanoma incident rates have more than quadrupled in the past 30 years.

FACT – Malignant Melanoma, as a cancer, is disproportionally high in young people.

FACT – More than 2 young people (15-34) are diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma every day in the UK.

FACT – Young women are twice as likely to be diagnosed as young men, but men are more likely to die as a result of the disease.

FACT – Men are most likely to develop Melanoma on the chest or back, whereas incidence in women is highest on the legs.

FACT – Worldwide 46,000 people died from malignant melanoma in 2008 with just over 2,000 of those coming from the UK.

FACT – Biggest risk factor associated with Melanoma is excess exposure to Ultraviolet Radiation (UVR).  A recent study estimated that 86% of melanoma diagnosed in the UK was as a result of exposure to UVR from the Sun and Sunbeds.

A history of sunburn doubles the risk of Melanoma.  Short burst exposure to UVR (that received on holiday or from a sunbed) is more strongly linked to the disease than the constant exposure received by those working outdoors.

Recent surveys have concluded that using sunbeds increases the risk of Melanoma.  In 2009 the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified sunbeds as carcinogenic to humans and various studies have concluded that the risk from sunbeds increases the younger the user.

People with a lot of moles are more pre-disposed to developing Melanoma.  Any change in shape, colour, texture etc. of a mole should be investigated by an appropriate health professional.

If caught early many Melanoma’s are treatable.  Early diagnosis is key to treating this cancer with those diagnosed early having a 5 year survival rate in excess of 95%.

There is currently no known cure for late stage Melanoma.  There are various trails currently underway for new technologies to treat Melanoma and these are the main source of hope for late stage sufferers.  Access to and funding for these trials is crucial to those with the later stages of this cancer.

More in depth information can be obtained from Cancer Research UK on the following link:


With early detection greatly increasing survivability of Melanoma it is vital that people know what to look for.  The easiest time to do this is when getting out of the bath or shower and by standing in front of a mirror (a hand held will do).

Check your entire body and look for any new moles or markings and also check existing one’s for any change in size, shape or colour.  To help in the identification process remember the A,B,C,D below:

A – Asymmetry.    Melanoma lesions are typically asymmetrical (not round) in shape.

B – Border.  Melanomic moles generally have irregular (ragged or notched) borders.

C – Colour. Any mole or marking which changes colour, or has multiple colours, should be treated with suspicion and checked out.

D – Diameter. If there is any growth in the diameter of a mole it should be checked out.  Also moles which are bigger than a ¼ inch (6mm in new money) should be paid special attention (1/4 inch is about the size of a pencil top).

Any sudden and rapid change in the size, shape, or colour of a mole, or spot, on the skin should prompt you to seek medical attention immediately.


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