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Sharp increase in skin cancer cases

A charity is calling for people to take more precautions in the sun after the annual number of cases of skin cancer topped 10,000 for the first time.

Cancer Research UK has blamed the rising number of people developing malignant melanoma on binge tanning at home and abroad. The charity believes that this number could exceed 15,500 by 2024, elevating malignant melanoma to the fourth most common cause of cancer.

The statistics for 2006, the most recent available, show a rise of 650 cases on last year's figures. The number of cases of the cancer has quadrupled in the last 30 years, up to 14.7 per 100,000 people in 2006, from 3.4 cases per 100,000 in 1977.

Men are more likely to die from the cancer than women, although there are more cases in the female population. Annually, 5,600 women are diagnosed with malignant melanoma compared to 4,800 men.

"Most melanoma skin cancers are caused by overexposure to UV rays given off by the sun and sunbeds," said Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK's director of health information. "But, crucially, if people are careful not to redden or burn, especially if they have fair, freckly or moley skin then most cases of malignant melanoma could be prevented."

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Cancer Research UK