Skin cancer death toll soars three-fold among pensioners

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

LONDON - Pensioners in Britain are three times more likely to die of skin cancer compared to 30 years ago. The reason - cheap package holidays to countries such as Spain, Portugal and Greece.

The number of over-65s being diagnosed with malignant melanoma has risen by five times in the past 30 years and they are more at risk than any other age group.

Experts are blaming the popularity of cheap package holidays to countries such as Spain, Portugal and Greece which boomed in the 1970s and when the pensioners of today were in their 20s and 30s.

Figures from Cancer Research UK show the mortality rate for the over-65s is 11.4 deaths per 100,000 population, compared to just four deaths per 100,000 population in 1979, the Daily Mail reports.

This is far higher than the rate for those aged 15 to 64 which currently stands at two deaths per 100,000 population.

Researchers say the elderly are particularly at risk as they are less likely to spot abnormal moles on their skin than younger generations who tend to be more self conscious about their bodies.

They believe the damage to the skin was caused in the 1970s when thousands of Britons took advantage of cheap package holiday deals in the sun.

Said Caroline Cerny, campaign manager at Cancer Research UK: “Skin cancer rates generally have dramatically increased in the last 30 years.”

“During the 1970s, package holidays to Spain, Greece and Portugal became increasingly popular. These short, sharp bursts of sun would have caused long-term damage to people’s skin.”

There are currently very few treatments available for late-stage melanoma.

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