More people than ever are worried about skin cancer yet one in three do not use sunscreen to protect their skin, a survey has revealed.
More than 75,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the UK each year, and recent research predicts that the incidence of melanoma skin cancer will treble in the next 30 years.
Yet the The Institute of Cancer Research, who polled 2,000 people, found half of those surveyed did not know any signs of the disease.
The Institute's SAFE campaign found 60 per cent of those questioned were more worried about skin cancer now than they were ten years ago. But a third of people do not use sunscreen when sunbathing, one of the key ways to protect the skin from ultraviolet (UV) light and avoid skin cancer.
However, the message about the dangers of sunbeds (another source of harmful UV light) is getting through, with 82 per cent saying they do not use them.
Professor Richard Marais from The Institute of Cancer Research said: "These results reflect the fact that people are deeply concerned about skin cancer, but that many people still do not know how to look after their skin.
"The number of people getting skin cancer is rising dramatically, so it is vitally important that everyone is aware of how to protect themselves from the harmful rays of the sun.
"Most cases of skin cancer can be avoided, and if caught early enough the disease can be treated. That is why everyone should know the signs and symptoms of the disease and visit their doctor immediately if in any doubt."
About 2,000 people die from skin cancer every year in the UK. There are two types of the disease: melanoma and non melanoma. Non melanoma is the most common, affecting 67,000 people a year in the UK, and is usually treatable with surgery.
Melanoma is the more serious form, affecting 8,000 people in the UK every year. If not caught and treated early the cancer can spread to other parts of the body and be fatal.
Professor Peter Rigby, Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research commented: "The Institute of Cancer Research is conducting cutting edge research to help find better treatments for skin cancer. Many important breakthroughs have been made but there is still much more to do. That is why we urge people to support the SAFE campaign so that we can keep up the good work."
To find out more about the SAFE Campaign log on to www.safe-campaign.org
What to look out for: If you notice any of the following changes you should visit your GP immediately:
• New sores and lumps that do not heal after a month
• Spots, sores or moles that bleed, itch, develop a crust or hurt
• Unexplained skin ulcers
• New or existing moles which appear to be growing or changing shape
• New or existing moles which are a range of shades of brown and black
• New or existing moles which are larger than 6mm in diameter
• New or existing moles which have jagged edges