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Last Updated: Friday, 28 November, 2003, 15:46 GMT
Report confirms skin cancer rise
Melanoma is a dangerous form of skin cancer
Rates of skin cancer are rising faster in England than those for any other type, according to official figures.

Between 1991 and 2000, the number of cases of melanoma rose by 64% in men, and 45% in women, said the Office for National Statistics.

Many cases are caused by over-exposure to the sun, or perhaps sunbed use.

A spokesman for Cancer Research UK said that the rises were "worrying", especially as the disease was "almost entirely preventable".

There is more than one type of skin cancer, but melanoma, while not the most common, is certainly the most dangerous, as it has the capacity to spread beyond the initial tumour.

This makes it much harder to treat if not caught soon enough, and survival rates are much lower than other forms of skin cancer.

Stomach boost

Professor Robert Souhami, from Cancer Research UK, said: "We need to persuade young people especially to change their attitudes towards tanning and their behaviour relating to the sun and sunbeds."

Elsewhere, there was better news about other cancers.

The levels of stomach cancer have fallen, a drop credited on improvements in food hygiene, which mean it is less likely a person would catch bacteria linked to the disease.

The number of cases of prostate cancer has risen - but this is due to a higher number of diagnoses of cancer that would never threaten the life of the patient.

The legacy of asbestos exposure in the middle of the last century is also becoming apparent.

The number of case of mesothelioma - an asbestos-related cancer - continues to rise.

Breast cancer cases fell by 8% over the period studied, and lung cancer cases in men fell by a quarter.

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