An event to mark World Melanoma Day was held at the Costa del Sol hospital in Marbella. / SUR

Melanoma is twice as common on the Costa del Sol as the rest of Spain

Excessive sunbathing is the main cause of the appearance of this most aggressive form of skin cancer

ÁNGEL ESCALERA MALAGA.

The incidence of melanoma, the most aggressive type of skin cancer, in Malaga province is double the average for Spain, the president of the Andalusian branch of the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, Leandro Martínez has stated.

There are more than 300 cases a year in Malaga province, which Dr Martínez says is "very high". The figures were revealed on Monday, 23 May, World Melanoma Day.

There are two reasons why there are more cases in Malaga province than elsewhere in the country. One is the climate, which means that people have more exposure to the sun, and the other is that many residents on the Costa del Sol are from northern Europe and their skin is more susceptible to developing cancer of some type.

"The main risk factor for melanoma is ultraviolet radiation, in other words the sun's rays," said Dr Martínez.

The risk also applies to UVA tanning cabins. "Exposure to artificial ultraviolet radiation before the age of 30 increases the risk of melanoma. It is estimated that from the third tanning session the risk shoots up, so people shouldn't do it," he said.

The cure for this type of skin cancer depends on when it is diagnosed. If it is detected early and is located entirely on the epidermis without having broken the basal membrane, the cure rate is 99 per cent. "The more advanced the melanoma, the less the chance of curing it, despite the effective treatments we have," he said.

This specialist warned that people should not sunbathe between midday and 5.30pm, should always use sun protection cream, stay in the shade on the beach and avoid prolonged exposure to the sun. He also recommends seeking medical advice if any mole changes shape, size or colour.

World Melanoma Day

World Melanoma Day was marked at the Costa del Sol hospital in Marbella with sessions held to raise awareness of the importance of preventing melanoma, and of early detection. Last year, the dermatology department detected 88 melanomas in 80 patients, as some had more than one tumour at the same time.