Dramatic rise in survivors of skin cancer

Cancer Research UK has revealed that research has helped raise the number of people surviving being diagnosed with skin cancer

A piece of skin being taken for DNA skin cancer screening
A piece of skin being taken for DNA skin cancer screening

Figures out today reveal a success in the battle against the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

Cancer Research UK says eight out of 10 people diagnosed with malignant melanoma now survive compared with five in 10 in the early 1970s.

They include Sarah Doick, 43, of Gateshead, who believes research by the charity helped save her life.

Sarah said: “After my cancer diagnosis, I realised that without all the hard work that Cancer Research UK and those that fundraise for it had done over the years, there was a very good possibility that I would not be here today.

“That’s why I’m supporting Cancer Research UK to help speed up the advances it is making in the battle against the disease.

“I am grateful for the treatment that saved my life, but there is still so much to do.” About 450 people a year are diagnosed with the condition in the North East.

Cancer Research UK’s Beat Cancer Sooner campaign draws attention to the need to accelerate groundbreaking research and bring cures faster.

Paul Wadsworth, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North East, said: “Our research is revealing more about skin cancer – what causes it, how we can better prevent it, and how we can develop targeted treatments to help more people beat the disease.

“Cancer Research UK research was behind the discovery that faults in a gene called BRAF contribute to over half of all cases of malignant melanoma.

“Since then, our scientists have led efforts to develop drugs that target this gene.

“Skin cancer is one of the fastest-rising cancers in the UK, which is likely to be down to our sunbathing habits and the introduction of cheap package holidays in previous decades.

“But the earlier cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat it and the more likely the treatment is to be successful.

“That’s why it’s important to get to know your skin and if you notice anything unusual, such as a change to a mole or a blemish that still hasn’t healed after a few weeks, then get it checked out by your GP. By funding more research we can bring forward the day when even more people survive.”

Professor Richard Marais, director of the Cancer Research UK Paterson Institute for Cancer Research, said the success was down to an army of fundraisers because Cancer Research UK does not receive government funding.

He said: “Forty years ago only around half of those diagnosed with skin cancer were surviving, so eight out of 10 is a massive improvement.

“More and more people are beating skin cancer, but we can’t stop there and we need to develop better treatments for the two out of 10 where things don’t look so good.

“Obviously we’ve come a long way in the fight against skin cancer and that’s largely down to the generosity of supporters who have funded research to help us to understand the disease better and find new ways of beating it.”

More people are beating skin cancer, but we can’t stop there and need better treatments

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