Image-obsessed UK fears weight gain more than potentially life-threatening skin changes
Research released today by the UK’s skincare expert, the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD), reveals that when it comes to thinking about their bodies, Brits are six times more likely to worry the most about putting on weight (42%) than changes to their skin (7%). The research also found that 69% of us don’t regularly check for moles, patches, or other signs of skin cancer, and that 57% of us don’t even know what to look for to detect it.
The research marks the launch of Ultimate Skincare – the UK’s first ever dedicated early detection skin cancer campaign – and is a response to a significant increase in skin cancer in the UK, where somebody is diagnosed every five minutes and one person dies every four hours (NOS 2008 Mortality Rates). Although skin cancer is on the rise, the average five-year survival rate has been estimated at 99% if melanoma (the most deadly, but least common, type of skin cancer) is detected at an early and treatable stage (NHS, 2009), which is why BAD is urging people to pay more attention to their skin.
The research found that:
• Ignorance about skin changes is most serious among 18-24 year olds, who put weight gain (48%), spots (14%), white teeth (8%), unwanted body hair (5%) and wrinkles (3%) higher up their priority lists than changes to their skin. Less than 1% of respondents listed this as the biggest thing about their appearance they worry about. This group is also the least likely to check their skin (only 17% said they check their skin regularly) and less than half (47%) said they would seek medical help if they did notice a change.
• Men are worse at checking their skin than women – only 22% of men regularly check their skin (compared to 35% of women); only 30% know what to look for as a sign of cancer (compared to 50% of women) and only 54% would seek help on noticing a change (compared to 73% of women). This is reflected in survival rates, which are lower for men than for women. In the last ten years, deaths from melanoma in men have increased by a third (NOS 2008 Mortality Rates).
• The UK public has no idea how serious skin cancer can be. The majority of respondents seriously underestimated how many people die from the disease (46%) or simply said they had no idea (41%). Only 5% were aware that six people die every day.
Early detection of skin cancer can drastically increase survival rates, meaning that the cancer is less likely to reoccur and often involves treatment that is far less invasive than if the cancer is spotted later. The Ultimate Skincare campaign aims to make people aware of this, to encourage them to check themselves and their loved ones and to seek medical advice from their GP if they do notice a difference, like a changing mole or a scab that refuses to heal.
Speaking in support of BAD’s new campaign, television presenter Sarah Cawood of National Lottery and The Wright Stuff fame, said:
“Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and cases are on the rise, which is why the British Association of Dermatologists has launched the Ultimate Skincare campaign to promote early detection. We want people to check their skin and the skin of the people they love. If you do find a change or see something strange, get it checked out by your GP. This won’t be costly or complicated – your GP will be able to check your skin and refer you to a dermatologist if necessary.”
President of the British Association of Dermatologists Dr Mark Goodfield said:
“Diagnosing a skin cancer early significantly impacts on how successfully it can be treated. People should be checking their skin every month or so – if you already do testicular or breast self examinations, why not check your skin at the same time? Use a mirror and get a friend or partner to look at your back, neck, scalp and ears as it can be hard to check these areas yourself. If you notice any changes to your skin, such as a changing mole or a wound that won’t heal, get yourself to your GP.”
As part of BAD’s early detection campaign, the British Association of Dermatologists has created the ABCDE guide to checking skin, to detect the signs of melanoma – the deadliest type of skin cancer. Look out for:
Asymmetry – the two halves of the area may differ in shape
Border – the edges of the area may be irregular or blurred, and sometimes show notches
Colour – this may be uneven. Different shades of black, brown and pink may be seen
Diameter – most melanomas are at least 6mm in diameter. Report any change in size, shape or diameter to your doctor
Expert – if in doubt, check it out! If your GP is concerned about your skin, make sure you see a Consultant Dermatologist, the most expert person to diagnose a skin cancer. Your GP can refer you via the NHS.
For more information about the early detection of skin cancer, please visit: www.ultimateskincare.org
Contacts: For further information please contact Faith Riding on email@example.com / 020 7 612 8865/07867 505551 or Katie Peden on firstname.lastname@example.org / 020 7612 8835 / 0786 750 5575
Notes to editors
• Research was carried out online by YouGov between 4th - 7th June 2010 among a sample of 2,198 UK adults
• The British Association of Dermatologists is the central association of practising UK dermatologists. The association’s aim is to continually improve the treatment and understanding of skin disease. The association delivers public education on a number of skin diseases, including the annual Sun Awareness campaign to highlight the importance of early detection of skin cancer
• Skin cancer now accounts for half of all new cancers diagnosed in Western populations and is the UK’s most common cancer