CASES of cancer in Lothian have risen by 19 per cent in the last decade as Scotland’s ageing population soars, new NHS statistics reveal.
Figures published by ISD Scotland yesterday reveal that 4737 people were diagnosed with cancer in the region in 2013, compared with 3966 in 2003.
There was a spike in skin cancer incidence, with malignant melanoma diagnoses increasing by nearly a third since 2003, prompting a warning from Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, for people to avoid sunbeds and take serious care in the sun.
Scots actor Ewan McGregor has previously revealed he had to have a malignant mole removed from his face in 2008.
Lung cancer is still the most common form of cancer at 17 per cent, but while nationally there has been a trend of long-term decline, the Lothian region has seen a 32 per cent increase in cases since 2003.
Despite the increase in cases, survival rates are improving as an estimated 176,000 people in Scotland who have been diagnosed with cancer during the past 20 years are still alive.
Campaigners welcomed the news that more people were surviving the disease but called for a greater focus on care to help those living with the disease.
Janice Preston, general manager of Macmillan in Scotland, said: “More people are being diagnosed with cancer than ever before, but more people are also surviving the disease.
“There are currently around 220,000 people in Scotland who have been diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. Research shows cancer patients are often left with long-term physical, emotional and financial problems as a result of cancer or its treatments.
“It’s vitally important we get much better at making sure people get the right support to cope with the many problems the illness can bring.”
The trends revealed by this report are broadly in line with the rest of the UK, said Health Secretary Shona Robison, who added: “We are improving our ability to detect cancer and to treat it successfully but we can always do more.”
The Scottish Government is implementing a programme to promote healthier lifestyles and tackle serious risk factors such as smoking and obesity.
Ms Robison said: “All the evidence shows that more lives can be saved through early detection and our Detect Cancer Early Programme is aimed at encouraging people to visit their GP with any unusual or persistent symptoms and to participate in our national screening programmes for breast, bowel and cervical cancers which gives us the best chance of successfully detecting and treating these cancers.”