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Primary care nurses will play a ‘crucial role’ in easing soaring rates of skin cancer

Primary care nurses could play a ‘crucial role’ in managing soaring rates of skin cancer through early identification and treatment

Primary care nurses could play a ‘crucial role’ in managing soaring rates of skin cancer through early identification and treatment, according to the Primary Care Dermatology Society. New figures from Cancer Research UK have revealed a spike in diagnoses of the disease and reports suggest that this could increase by over 50% in the next 20 years

‘The prevention and early detection of skin cancer plays a crucial role in reducing mortality rates,’ said Julie Van Onselen, dermatology nurse and executive committee member of the Primary Care Dermatology Society. ‘Primary care nurses regularly assess skin lesions, but learning dermoscopy is key to recognise normal lesions, and lesions of concern which need to be referred on appropriately or urgently to 2WW.’

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But the report also reveals that the number of people dying from skin cancer is declining, as record numbers of people report consulting a GP because of changes in their skin. Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: ‘Our new analysis paints a mixed picture for cancer patients and the staff who care for them. While it’s promising that more people are seeking treatment for skin cancer earlier and survival is improving, it’s alarming that cases of the disease could soar over the coming years.’

Fears have been expressed by Cancer Research UK that the rates of diagnosis will continue to rise as temperatures increase over the summer months. Nine out of ten cases are caused by an overexposure to ultraviolet light. Ms Van Onselen called for greater awareness and promotion of skin protection within primary care, to ensure that patients know the importance of being safe in the sun. 'Sun protection advice should be given to patients at every opportunity, as this is health promotion, and a responsibility for every primary care nurse,’ she said.

Greater awareness amongst patients was also  key to Ms Mitchell, who said: ‘It’s important to take care in the sun and to contact your GP if you notice any unusual changes to your skin – it’s not just changes to a mole that matter, it could be a sore that doesn’t heal or any unusual changes to an area of your skin. Spotting cancer early can make all the difference.’