South East coast has England's highest rates of most common cancer, study reveals
The South East coast has England’s highest rates of the most common cancer, according to research due to be published in the British Journal of Dermatology.
The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Nottingham and the British Geological Survey’s Environmental Science Centre in Nottingham, looked at diagnoses of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) across the UK over a six-year period (2004 to 2010). BCC is a type of non-melanoma skin cancer and the primary cause is exposure to ultraviolet light through sunlight or tanning beds.
In England, the South East coast was found to have the highest level of the disease, followed by South Central and South West regions.
The study also found that, despite it being the UK’s most common cancer, BCC is still on the rise, with an increase of 2.6 per cent every year. While an ageing population may contribute to the overall rise, worryingly, the largest average increase was found in the 30 to 39 year age group, followed by those aged 40 to 49.
The researchers further discovered that people living in the least deprived areas were 50 per cent more likely to have a BCC than those with the highest levels of deprivation.
Fiona Bath-Hextall of the University of Nottingham’s Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology and one of the study’s authors said: “Our results indicate that the incidence rate of BCC is increasing, in particular amongst those aged 30 to 49 years. We found that southern regions of the UK have the highest recorded rates of BCC.
“This may be linked to several environmental factors. The most prominent is the latitudinal position - in the UK, the hours of sunshine are normally longer in the south than the northern regions, especially during the summer season. The southern parts of England and Wales usually receive the greatest hours of annual sunshine.”
For socioeconomic deprivation, incidence of BCC was consistently higher in the most affluent groups. This may be linked to higher levels of income for frequent holidays overseas to sunnier places, thereby exposing the skin to sunlight, or having available funds for pursuing other lifestyle habits which are risk factors for BCC.
Nina Goad of the British Association of Dermatologists said: “While basal cell carcinoma is very common, fortunately it is also very treatable.
“These cancers can occur on any part of the body, but are most common on areas of skin that are most often exposed to the sun such as your head and neck, including lips and ears, and the backs of your hands.
“They tend to appear gradually on the skin and slowly get bigger over time. They can vary greatly in their appearance, but people often first become aware of them as a scab that bleeds occasionally and does not heal completely. Some are very superficial and look like a scaly red flat mark, others have a pearl-like rim surrounding a central crater. Others are quite lumpy, with one or more shiny nodules crossed by small but easily seen blood vessels. Most are painless, although sometimes they can be itchy or bleed if caught on clothes or picked up.
“If your doctor thinks you have a skin cancer or is not sure, they can refer you for free through the NHS to see a skin cancer specialist, usually a Consultant Dermatologist, who is an expert in diagnosing and treating skin cancer.”
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common cancer found in humans. The incidence of BCC in the UK is not accurately known because recording of the disease is incomplete. However a recent study estimated that approximately 760,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed annually in the UK population. BCC is likely to account for approximately 75 per cent of these.
Notes to editors:
1. For more information and interview requests, please contact: Nina Goad or Deborah Mason, British Association of Dermatologists, Phone: 0207 391 6355, Email: email@example.com, Website: www.bad.org.uk
2. If using this information, please ensure you mention that the study is being released in the British Journal of Dermatology, the official publication of the British Association of Dermatologists.
3. Study details: British Journal of Dermatology: Regional variations of Basal cell carcinoma incidence in the
UK using THIN database (2004-2010). A. Musah1, J.E. Gibson1, J. Leonardi-Bee1, M.R. Cave2, E.L. Ander2, F. Bath-Hextall3
1Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, Clinical Sciences Building (Phase 2),
University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG5 1PB, UK
2British Geological Survey, Environmental Science Centre, Nottingham NG12 5GG, UK
3Centre of Evidence Based Dermatology, King’s Meadow Campus, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2NR, UK
Print publication date TBC; Draft, unedited version due to appear in Accepted Articles section online 24.05.13.
DOI 10.1111/bjd.12446. The article in the BJD can be viewed online: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bjd.12446/abstract
The British Association of Dermatologists is the central association of practising UK dermatologists. Our aim is to continually improve the treatment and understanding of skin disease. For further information about the charity, visit www.bad.org.uk . Wiley-Blackwell, created in February 2007 by merging Blackwell Publishing with Wiley's Global Scientific, Technical, and Medical business, is now one of the world's foremost academic and professional publishers and the largest society publisher. With a combined list of more than 1,400 scholarly peer-reviewed journals and an extensive collection of books with global appeal, this new business sets the standard for publishing in the life and physical sciences, medicine and allied health, engineering, humanities and social sciences. For more information visit www.wiley.com