Official statistics show an increase in non-melanoma skin cancer cases in Wales

The first release of official statistics on non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) – the most common form of cancer in Wales – has shown a seven per cent increase in cases over a four year period.

The age-standardised incidence of NMSC has increased by 7.1 per cent between 2016 and 2019 – and the rate is the highest of all the UK nations.

NMSC is the group of cancers that has by far the highest number of cases in Wales.

NMSC made up 43 per cent of all new cases of cancer in Wales in 2019, with 15,102 first occurrences, compared to a total of 20,058 cases of all other types of cancer combined.

In fact, after adjusting for differences in age, the incidence rate is two-and-a-half times higher than prostate cancer, which has the next highest rate.

The main factor that causes NMSC is long term exposure to the sun, and the highest proportion of cases are in those over 65.  It usually develops in areas of the body that are most exposed to the sun, such as the head, face, scalp and neck.

Unlike many other cancers, there’s less risk that NMSCs will spread to other parts of the body, although this can still happen. This means that if they are diagnosed early, most cases can be treated successfully.

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