The presence of melanoma (the most aggressive type of skin cancer) is higher on the Costa del Sol than elsewhere in Spain. The Costa del Sol hospital in Marbella says it sees 17 cases for every 100,000 inhabitants, which is almost double the national average of 9.6. In fact, this type of tumour has tripled in recent years, according to a press conference about a prevention campaign called ‘Your skin is important’, which has just been launched by Melanoma España and Roche España.
Every year about 4,000 melanomas are diagnosed in Spain. These cases increased by 50 per cent in Malaga province between 2007 and 2014, but the good news is that 90 per cent of cases could be avoided if sun protection is used from childhood onwards.
The increase in cases is partly due to people being more aware and consulting their doctor if they notice anything unusual. Skin cancer can appear a great many years after the damage initially occurred.
The prevention campaign is aimed at the population in general, but especially for tourists from northern Europe, where the incidence of melanoma is about 20 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
The director of the dermatology unit at the Costa del Sol hospital, Magdalena Troya, who is also running the campaign, says that two recent studies about skin cancer in this region have confirmed that the incidence of different types of skin cancer is higher among foreigners than Spanish nationals, and they are more likely to suffer from multiple tumours.
Researchers in northern countries have warned of the high risk of sunbathing on holiday without adopting suitable skin protection measures.
María Godrid, a melanoma patient and representative of Melanoma España, told the press conference that prevention is the key.
“90 per cent of cases of skin cancer could have been avoided, so as well as supporting patients and their families, Melanoma España also encourages people to use proper sun protection for their skin,” she said.
This campaign also stresses the importance of early diagnosis. In the case of melanoma, it can be cured if it is caught in time, but once it is in an advanced stage it is much more difficult to treat.
Melanomas can occur on any type of skin and anywhere on the body. The chest and back are most common in men, and the legs in women. In people with dark skin, it often appears on the hands, feet and under the nails.