According to the UK Cancer Research organization the rise in skin cancer cases among seniors is linked to cheap holiday packages in the 60s.
The group explained that although everyone is at risk of developing skin cancer (or melanoma), older people have a higher risk of melanomas as preventive education regarding skin cancer was not that well organized four decades ago.
Statistics show that more than 5,700 people over the age of 65 are diagnosed with skin cancer annually. In the 1970s, the number of cases was much lower, about 600 each year.
In the United Kingdom, for example, each year 13,300 people are diagnosed with malignant forms of skin cancer, which is the most severe type. About 2,100 people lose their lives to malignant melanoma each year. The numbers are gradually increasing but the biggest rise has been recorded in the age group exceeding 65.
Sue Deans, a 69-year old woman who was first diagnosed melanoma in 2000 and again in 2007 considers that there wasn’t “much understanding at the time about the impact that too much sun can have on your risk of getting skin cancer”.
She explained that she was part of a generation when package holidays became very affordable and everyone was rushing to travel and reach sunny destinations. She also admitted to having suffered a few sunburn throughout the years. Luckily she noticed the cancer signs early on and had successfully undergone treatment.
According to Cancer Research UK (CRUK), there are many public health messages nowadays that explain the risks of holiday sun.
Professor Richard Marais, member of CRUK states:
“It is important people keep an eye on their skin and seek medical opinion if they see any changes to their moles or even to normal areas of skin.”
Melanoma is frequently located on men’s backs and women’s legs but can also be detected on other parts of the body. According to numerous studies, the risk of melanoma increases even when one gets sunburnt every two years.
The head of CRUK health information, Dr. Julie Sharp warns that sunburns can occur even at home and just as easily as it can happen while on holiday. She recommends people to cool off in the shade as much as possible, to “wear a T-shirt and a hat” to protect one’s skin and to periodically apply sunscreen with a factor of at least 15.
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