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A survey by the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) has suggested that more than three in four Britons would not recognise the signs of skin cancer.

The results are being published at the start of Sun Awareness Week, an annual campaign by the BAD set up in a bid to raise awareness of skin cancer, outlining how people can check themselves for signs of the disease and protect themselves from getting it. More than 1,000 people took part in the survey and the BAD said that although 95 per cent of respondents were aware that skin cancer was becoming more common, they seemed to be unaware of its link to sunburn.

Skin cancer is now the cause of nearly 2,100 deaths every year in the UK. Rates of the disease have been increasing since the 1960s, with the rising popularity of sunbeds believed to be part of the problem.
The BAD says that every year over 250,000 new non-melanoma skin cancer cases are diagnosed – this is the most common type of skin cancer. 13,000 new cases of the disease’s deadliest form – melanoma – are diagnosed in addition to this, it said.

The survey suggests that around 40 per cent of people never check their skin for signs of skin cancer. Around 77 per cent of people don’t feel confident that they could recognise the signs of melanoma, and 81 per cent don’t feel that they’d be able to recognise the signs of non-melanoma skin cancer.

Charlotte Proby, Professor of Dermatology at Ninewells Hospital and Medical School in Dundee, and Chair of the BADs’ Skin Cancer Prevention Committee said, “Rising skin cancer rates are a major health concern for the UK, and some dermatology departments are stretched to capacity trying to keep up with cases.

“Many people in the UK are aware of the dangers; however, this has yet to translate into a culture of sun protection and skin checking which would do a lot to curb the incidence and deaths from this disease.”