Cancer Research UK says more people are surviving malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. Their latest statistics, published online this week, reveal that more than 8 in 10 people diagnosed with malignant melanoma will now survive the disease. Forty years ago, the survival rate was only around 5 in 10.
The charity says the improvement is most likely due to better treatments and earlier diagnosis, and also because people are more aware of the symptoms.
The report shows that 80% of men and 90% of women live more than ten years after being diagnosed with malignant melanoma compared with only 38% of men and 58% of women in the early 70s.
In the UK every day, around 35 people discover they have malignant melanoma, totalling nearly 13,000 new cases a year.
Professor Richard Marais, director of the Cancer Research UK Paterson Institute for Cancer Research at the University of Manchester, says in a statement that much of the huge progress in the fight against skin cancer is down to the generosity of supporters who have funded research that increases understanding of the disease and finds new ways to beat it. He says:
There are now some very effective new drugs, such as vemurafenib, which was developed with the help of research funded by the charity.
"Although these drugs do not cure skin cancers, they can give patients with advanced melanoma valuable extra months and show the progress we are making," Marais adds.
Skin cancer is one of the fastest rising cancers in the UK, which the charity says is likely due to more Britons sunbathing than before, and the rise of cheap package holidays in earlier decades.
Treatment for skin cancer is more likely to succeed the earlier the disease is detected. The key to early diagnosis, says Dr. Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, is to get to know your skin, notice anything unusual, such as a change to a mole or a blemish that hasn't healed after a few weeks, and see your doctor.