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High incidence of skin cancer in the Channel Islands


  • Conflict of interest: none declared.

Dr Graham Reilly, Department of Dermatology, Princess Elizabeth Hospital, Le Vauquiedor, St Andrews, Guernsey GY4 6UU, UK


Background.  Previous studies looking at rates of malignant melanoma (MM) and nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC) in the UK have documented one of the highest rates in the southwest of England; however, the incidence of these tumours in Guernsey and Jersey, two of the Channel Islands, has not previously been reported.

Aims.  To determine the incidence of cutaneous MM and NMSC in the Channel Islands.

Methods.  Data for the period 2005–2009 were obtained from clinical and histopathological records for all MMs excised in the Channel Islands, and from the South-west Cancer Registry for MMs excised in the southwest of England and for NMSCs in both areas. The age-standardized incidence rate (ASRs) per 100 000 of the population in the Channel Islands were compared with those with the southwest of England, the UK and the rest of Europe where available. The MM characteristics of the Channel Islands were then compared with the southwest of England using standardized incidence ratios (SIRs).

Results.  The ASR/100 000 for cutaneous MM for 2005–2009 was 30 for the Channel Islands (31.3 for Jersey, 28.2 for Guernsey), 20.3 for the southwest of England, and 15.6 for the UK. Comparison with the rest of Europe indicated that the incidence of MM in the Channel Islands is one of the highest in Europe. The highest incidence of MM was in the over 65 years age group on both Guernsey and Jersey, and when divided into 5-year age bands, the 70–74 years age group had the highest rate. This suggests that this particular age group may have previously received greater exposure to some environmental factor that promotes MM development. The ASR/100 000 for NMSC was also higher for the Channel Islands (263.3) than for the southwest of England (174.6) for 2005–2009, and for the UK in 2009 (104.9).

Conclusions.  This study indicates that the Channel Islands have a high incidence of skin cancer (both MM and NMSC). In addition, the data show that the ASRs in older people in this population group differ from those in mainland UK, showing higher rates in the over 65 years age group.

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