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29 July 2020

MSP Highlights New Report on Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer

Low Public Understanding of UK's Most Common Cancer
  • Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is the most common cancer in the UK, yet around 7 in 10 adults don’t know what it is.
  • NMSC often develops on the head, face or neck and as a result can significantly affect a person’s physical and mental wellbeing.
Stewart Stevenson MSP has welcomed the new report, “State of the Nation: Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer”, written by Sanofi Genzyme, which highlights the risks of the UK’s most common cancer, particularly for outdoor workers.

The report finds that public awareness of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is worryingly low and urgent action is needed to improve sun safety and symptom recognition. More than 152,000 new cases of NMSC are diagnosed every year; the equivalent of 416 every day. This is more than breast, prostate and lung cancers combined.

A survey of over 3,600 people in the UK, conducted to inform the report, showed that 4 in 10 (40%) of UK adults were not at all confident about identifying the signs of NMSC.

It also found that two thirds (64%) of employees who work outside for more than one hour per day do not get help from their employers to protect against skin cancer. This is despite outdoor workers being more than twice as likely to develop NMSC as those that work indoors, because of increased exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV) from the sun.

Stewart Stevenson MSP said:

“This report is important in terms of raising awareness of non-melanoma skin cancer, which affected almost 1000 people in the NHS Grampian area in 2018 alone. It’s a very stark statistic that in the last 20 years, the number of cases in the NHS Grampian area has increased by 64%.

“Although it is largely preventable by minimising exposure to UV radiation in sunlight or tanning beds, the number of new cases of NMSC is rising sharply. Worryingly, a new survey commissioned as part of the report showed that 38% of people in Scotland surveyed were unaware of the risk factors for NMSC, and around a half were not confident they would be able to identify the signs of NMSC.

“So I very much welcome this report as an awareness-raising tool amongst the public.”

Stewart Stevenson
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