Ireland ‘facing a skin cancer epidemic’, warns charity

Ireland is facing a “skin cancer epidemic”, the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) has warned.

File image.

The charity wants the skin cancer prevention plan, prioritised in the National Cancer Strategy, published by the year end.

“Ireland is facing a skin cancer epidemic in the next few decades, with skin cancer cases to rise by almost two-thirds by 2040 to nearly 19,000 cases a year,” said Donal Buggy, ICS head of services and advocacy.

The ICS is pleased the Department of Health has started work on developing the skin cancer plan, but has warned against any delay to its publication.

Urgent steps need to be taken now to prevent skin cancer in Ireland into the future, including raising awareness of the dangers of sun exposure, and steps to further regulate the use of sunbeds, including a potential ban, said Mr Buggy.

The ICS wants to see a comprehensive action plan with ambitious timelines to turn the tide against rising skin cancer rates.

In 2015 ,there were 11,785 cases of skin cancer in Ireland and 1,118 were melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.

The number of skin cancer cases is conservatively estimated to increase to 18,989 by 2040.

Craig Sinclair, an international expert on skin cancer, will speak about measures taken in Australia to reduce the incidence of skin cancer at a conference hosted by the ICS today.

Mr Sinclair is director of the World Health Organisations’s Collaborative Centre for UV Radiation and head of Cancer Prevention at Victoria in Australia.

Mr Sinclair said innovative public awareness campaigns that started 30 years ago in Australia reduced melanoma cases in younger age groups.

“It is vitally important that a comprehensive and well-resourced plan is put in place by the Irish Government to tackle skin cancer in Ireland or, unfortunately, the significant human and financial burden of skin cancer will continue to increase,” he said.

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Meanwhile, almost seven out of 10 (68%) of adults in Ireland think sunbeds should be illegal in Ireland.

One in five people (20%) have used sunbeds, even though almost everyone (97%) is aware of the dangers associated with them, according to a survey by iReach Insights.

Of particular concern is that almost four out of 10 adults (38%) intend exposing their skin to the sun to get a tan and 15% think it is worth getting sunburned to get a tan. Almost one in five (18%) have already got sunburnt this year.

Only 30% of people ever got any moles or dark freckles checked by a doctor and one in four (25%) are unaware of the dangers associated with the sun.

However, most people (88%) use sun cream and more than half (52%) always wear sun cream when outdoors in the sunshine.


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