For the first time in the UK, more than 10,000 people aged 55 and over were diagnosed with malignant melanoma - the most dangerous form of skin cancer - in a single year, according to the latest figures released by Cancer Research UK and as a result South Lincolnshire CCG is highlighting the signs and symptoms of melanoma.
Rates of melanoma in people aged 55 and over have more than doubled (155 per cent) in the last 20 years. Rates in the UK for under 55s are also rising but at a much slower rate of 63 per cent during the same time.
The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole. This can happen anywhere on the body, but the back, legs, arms and face are most commonly affected.
In most cases, melanomas have an irregular shape and more than one colour. They may also be larger than normal moles and can sometimes be itchy or bleed.
An "ABCDE checklist" has been developed for people to tell the difference between a normal mole and a melanoma this checklist can be found by visiting http://www.nhs.uk/Tools/Pages/Mole-slideshow.aspx
Dr Kevin Hill, Chair of NHS South Lincolnshire CCG, said:
“We would urge any patients to go to see their GP if they notice changes to any moles that they have. You can help protect yourself from sun damage by using sunscreen and dressing sensibly in the sun. Sunbeds and sunlamps should also be avoided.
Regularly checking your moles and freckles can help lead to an early diagnosis and increase your chances of successful treatment. In most cases, a suspicious mole will be surgically removed and studied to see if it is cancerous. This is known as a biopsy. You may also have a test to check if melanoma has spread elsewhere in your body. This is known as a sentinel node biopsy."
Melanoma is the fifth most common type of cancer in the UK. For all age groups around 15,400 people across the UK are diagnosed with melanoma each year compared with 5,600 two decades ago – an increase in rates of – 120 per cent since the mid-nineties.
Getting sunburnt just once every two years can triple your risk of developing malignant melanoma. Sunburn isn’t only raw or blistered skin, any pink- or reddening of the skin is a sign of damage.