Non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) is the most common cancer in the UK today, yet you may not have heard of it.1
Over 152,000 new cases of NMSC are reported each year in the UK, that’s more than breast, prostate and lung cancers combined.2,3 But this cancer is largely preventable, by limiting exposure to UV rays.4 Protect people from the sun, reduce cases of NMSC – the message here seems clear. However, the prevalence continues to rise at an alarming rate and is expected to more than double in just 25 years.5 So what is happening here – why isn’t it being prevented?
Driven to find answers, Sanofi published the State the of the Nation report. With input from Sir Edward Leigh MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Skin, UK dermatologists and patient advocates, plus insights from a survey of 3,638 members of the UK public, the report revealed a number of staggering findings about the current NMSC environment.
Firstly, understanding of NMSC among the public is extremely low. Not only had 69% of adults not heard of this type of cancer, but 38% were unaware of the risk factors altogether.6 But why is this?
NMSC is often seen as a minor condition because it is largely treatable through surgery. While this is partly true, the physical and mental toll that surgery can take should not be underestimated.7 It can lead to long-term disfiguration and side-effects, like difficulty speaking, hearing, seeing and breathing.8 This can have a substantial impact on people’s self-esteem and can lead to feelings of isolation as they avoid social interactions due to concerns about their appearance.9,10
The report also revealed a number of fundamental challenges at the healthcare system level, meaning the number of current NMSC cases are already difficult to manage. An under-reporting of NMSC cases, inefficiencies in the care pathway and a lack of clinical evidence have resulted in an environment where prioritisation of NMSC is difficult and the quality of patient care is inconsistent.11,12 With a shortage of consultant dermatologists on top of this – approximately 1 for every 80,500 people – resources are already stretched.13
As the population ages and COVID-19 places greater burden on the NHS,
urgent action is needed across the system to reduce the additional
impact of NMSC. With the launch of this report, Sanofi and Sir Edward
Leigh MP have outlined a number of recommendations for UK policymakers.
If implemented, they will help people to enjoy the sun safely, recognise
symptoms early and ensure all NMSC patients are able to access the
quality care they need to manage this life-changing condition.