Sharp increase in skin and liver cancer

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), between 2003 and 2012, the number of skin cancer cases in England rose by 78% in men and 48% in women.

Cases of liver cancer also rose quite sharply – ONS figures showed it had risen by 70% in men and 60% in women.

While overexposure to the sun is thought to be the main cause of skin cancer, alcohol, obesity and hepatitis B and C are behind liver-related cases.

Following this sharp increase, skin cancer is now the fifth most common cancer in the country – accounting for 4% of cases.

The number of people newly diagnosed increased from 3,109 in men and 3,886 in women in 2003 to 5,535 in men and 5,746 in women in 2012.

The ONS said increased sunbathing and changes in clothing trends is behind this rise.

Liver cancer on the other hand is now the 18th most common cancer – accounting for 1% of new cases.

In 2003, 1,440 men and 889 women were newly diagnosed, which increased to 2,449 men and 1,418 women in 2012.

Andrew Langford, chief executive at the British Liver Trust, described these figures as “unfortunately, unsurprising”.

He said: “It is a very fine line people are treading at the moment. The three main causes of liver cancer are alcohol, obesity and viral hepatitis.

“Part of the problem is people often associate liver cancer with alcoholics. But we all know people who we would never describe as alcoholics but are heavy drinkers – and they are at risk.”

Other statistics from the ONS report highlighted the most prevalent cancers in men and women.

In 2012 breast cancer was the most common cancer in women – affecting 13% of those diagnosed with cancer – while prostrate was the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men at 26%.

While the rate of breast cancer diagnoses has remained constant from 2003 to 2012, the ONS did say that 80% of women diagnosed were aged over 50.

Age was also the biggest risk factor for prostate cancer. The research showed 89% of new cases in 2012 were in men aged over 60.

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Written by Tamara Marshall
Written by Tamara Marshall
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