Increasing skin cancer Incidence in younger, more affluent, urban Irish populations

A study recently published in the British Journal of Dermatology shows a rising incidence of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC), the commonest cancer in white populations, in younger, more affluent, urban populations.

The study, conducted by researchers at the National Cancer Registry, analysed demographic, clinical and socio-economic trends of non-melanoma skin cancer cases registered by the National Cancer Registry between 1994 and 2011.

Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) was more common than squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) in both sexes, and both types were more common in men than in women. While the incidence of BCC and SCC remained stable from 1994 to around 2002, both (particularly BCC) increased significantly thereafter. The biggest increase in BCC incidence was in younger populations. BCC was more common in urban than in rural areas and, within urban areas, the incidence was higher in the more affluent areas. Both of these trends were seen, to a lesser extent, for SCC.

The authors suggest that these findings are partly due to increasing exposure of younger, more affluent, urban populations to repeated sunburn from leisure activities. The increasing incidence of these cancers in younger people adds weight to the case for vigorous public health campaigns on the dangers of sunburn from recreational sun exposure, targeted at younger people.

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