Nearly a quarter of Brits have never checked their skin for life-threatening changes, despite a surge in skin cancer deaths over the last decade, new research suggests.
One in four (23%) adults in Britain admit they have never checked for changes in appearance or number of moles on their skin, which can be a major warning sign of the disease.
The independent study of 2,027 people was commissioned by skin checking app Miiskin, which has teamed up with the British Skin Foundation charity in the eyesonyourskin.co.uk campaign to battle the most common cancer in the UK. £1 for each free UK download of the app will go to charity for one month.
The study also revealed that three per cent had a mole they were concerned about for more than three months, but hadn’t had it checked by a medical professional. With one in 50 currently having a persistently itchy or bleeding mole.
Surprisingly, 17% of Britain’s under-35s believed they were too young or weren’t exposed to the sun enough to develop skin cancer. Just under one in 10 under-45s (9%) thought they should only check their skin if advised to by a medical professional.
The self-checking message does seem to be sinking in for some though, with nearly a third (31%) doing monthly checks – the frequency recommended by the British Skin Foundation.
Almost a fifth of under 35s are now taking ‘selfies’ to monitor their skin for moles, with 18 per cent using photos to document changes.
However, people are still taking risks with their skin health. One in 10 (11%) use tanning beds – 13% of which admit to sessions once or multiple times a week.
Only two fifths of Brits (38%) say they always use sun cream when exposed to the sun and despite warnings about the dangers one in 20 under 35s (5%) say they rely on sunbeds for a winter tan.
Skin cancer is on the rise in Britain, with more than 100,000 new cases diagnosed annually and 2,500 deaths from the disease every year. Latest Government statistics indicate a 35.8% 10-year rise in skin cancer deaths.
Jon Friis, founder and CEO of Miiskin, said: ‘With cases of skin cancer increasing in the UK, the self-checking message is starting to sink in for some, but not all. Keeping track of changes to your skin can be a challenge – and many people are now using technology to spot and document changes to their skin. Early detection is important for successful treatment.’
Skin cancer is mainly caused by over-exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. Non-melanoma skin cancers are the most common, with melanoma being one of the most dangerous.
The Miiskin app, which has already received 100,000 downloads globally, including 20,000 in the UK, was created to help people digitally track how skin and moles look, with reminders to routinely check for changes. It does not try to diagnose skin cancer or tell users that they are at risk or not. Those who do spot changes should seek advice from their GP or another medical professional.
To read guidelines on identifying potential signs of skin cancer on clients’ skin, click here