Martin Whitfield MSP has voiced his support for Melanoma Awareness Month this May and is backing a leading cancer charity’s new ‘Know Your Skin’ campaign.

His support comes after experts have raised concerns in response to a new survey by the charity Melanoma Focus which shows that 35 per cent of people in Scotland reported rarely or never using sunscreen when in the UK and only 15 per cent saying that they always use it.

Melanoma skin cancer is a serious and potentially fatal condition, yet people in the UK are often ignoring the dangers posed by prolonged exposure to the UV rays. 1 in 36 men and 1 in 47 women in the UK will be diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer in their lifetime. It is the deadliest form of skin cancer and is in the top five most commonly diagnosed cancers in the UK, killing 2,333 people per year. Yet 86 per cent of melanomas are preventable.

Recent research has shown that there has been a huge increase in the number of people in the UK being diagnosed with melanoma, despite efforts to educate the public on the risks. Over the last decade, melanoma skin cancer incidence rates have increased by around a third (32 per cent) in the UK.

The reported use of sunbeds is also a serious concern. It is estimated that in the UK about 100 people die each year from melanomas that are due to sunbed use. The survey found that 31 per cent of Scottish people have used sunbeds, despite 82 per cent of all respondents knowing that they increase the risk of skin cancer.

Martin Whitfield MSP said:

“I’m delighted to support Melanoma Awareness Month and urge constituents to take steps to protect themselves and their loved ones from this rising and very serious form of skin cancer.

”Using high-factor sunscreen and checking your skin regularly for new or changing moles or lesions are simple steps which will help reduce the risk of skin cancer. The message is simple – Know Your Skin and reduce the risk.”

Susanna Daniels, CEO of Melanoma Focus, said:

“About seven people die from melanoma every day in the UK and more people die from melanoma in the UK than in Australia. The fact that people are continuing to ignore the warnings and not take the necessary precautions to protect themselves from skin cancer is concerning. 

“About 9 in 10 melanoma skin cancer cases are preventable and it is vital that people take the warnings about the dangers of excessive sun exposure and the dangers of sunbed use seriously. Sunbeds can be incredibly dangerous and it’s concerning that their use is so popular in the UK. The best way to protect yourself from the dangers of sunbeds is to avoid them altogether and use high-factor sun protection, along with seeking shade and wearing a hat when in the sun.”

Find out more about Melanoma Focus and the Know Your Skin campaign at