Skin Cancer Rises in Oxfordshire

2 June 2010, 06:00 | Updated: 2 June 2010, 07:22

The number of people being diagnosed with skin cancer in Oxfordshire's increased by 65% in 10 years.

In the year 2000, there were around 1,600 new cases of skin cancer in the county. Last year the figure stood at more than 2,700.

There are three common forms of skin cancer.

Basal Cell Carcinoma, is otherwise known as 'Rodent Ulcer', and is the most common forms of the cancer. It's called 'Rodent' because doctors say it 'chews holes in your skin' like a rat. The tumours might appear on your nose or mouth and eat into your face. But if you cut them out early, you can cure them. 95% of people who get this form of cancer are cured. The figures for this type of skin cancer have seen the biggest increase. In 2000, there were 1,091 new cases of it. In 2009 there were 1,912.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma appears like a warty growth on your skin and can spread so is more dangerous than the 'Rodent Ulcer'. The figures for this form of skin cancer have steadily grown over the past 10 years. In 2000, there were 332 new cases, five years later there were 425 and last year there were 490 in Oxfordshire.

Melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer and is one of the most common causes of cancers in women in their 30s. Melanoma is the cancer of moles. It's seen an big increase too with 237 people being diagnosed in 2000 and 336 in 2009. If caught early, melanoma can be treatable. In women there's an 85% cure rate of melanoma, but there's a 75% of cure in men. 

Oxfordshire's got the second highest rate of melanoma in the country (between 1.33 and 1.5 per thousand).

There are a few reasons why Oxfordshire has a high rate of skin cancer. Firstly, the county has a large agricultural population and therefore more people work outdoors and are exposed to sunlight. Secondly, the county is fairly affluent and more people here tend to go on holiday abroad. And finally, our county's got a warmer and sunnier climate than most others in the UK.

Dr Richard Turner, who's a skin cancer specialist at the Churchill Hospital, told Heart he expects the figures to increase in the next 20 - 30 years. It's because skin cancer can take years to develop. So if you burn now, you may not get a reaction for many years. The advice is to wear high factor sunscreen and light cotton clothing.