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Large geographical differences in the incidence of skin cancer in Norway

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The Cancer Society encourages everyone to be aware if you get a new mole, or if a mole changes and differs from the others. Photo: Erik Johansen / NTB

Of NTB | 08.05.2024 05:35:00

Weather: In 2023, 2,967 new cases of mole cancer and 3,059 cases of skin cancer were registered in Norway in 2023, i.e. just over 6,000 cases in total and on par with the record year 2022. This is shown in the latest annual report from The Cancer RegistryFHI.

The rates for the number of cases per 100,000 inhabitants are now 99 and 101 for Norway. Looking at the statistics per county, there are a total of 120 cases of melanoma and 139 cases of skin cancer per 100,000 inhabitants in Agder.

At the bottom of the county lists are Troms and Finnmark, with rates of 51 and 50 for the two types of cancer.

It is easy to think that it is the places with the most sun that also have the most cases of skin cancer. But it can also be the case that places with less sun, such as Vestland and Møre and Romsdal, are outside more when it is first sunny, or perhaps they travel to the South and get sunburned there, says Secretary General of the Cancer Association, Ingrid Stenstadvold Ross in an email to NTB.

On the list of the number of detected cases of skin cancer, mostly the same counties are above the average of 101.

Rogaland and Trøndelag stand out slightly in that they are high on one list and low on the other:

Rogaland has 99 proven cases of melanoma per 100,000, but a very high rate for the number of skin cancer cases, with 135.

In Trøndelag it is the other way around, with 106 confirmed cases of melanoma per 100,000, but a relatively low rate for skin cancer, with 74.

– It is difficult to know why certain counties are higher than others, but there are many who work offshore in Rogaland. They can detect earlier through health checks. They often have longer periods of time off where they perhaps enjoy themselves out in the sun or travel abroad? says Stenstadvold Ross.

The numbers are increasing in all age groups, but it is the elderly who get skin cancer the most. The median age for melanoma is now 67, which means that half of all those diagnosed are over 67.

– In the last five years, there have been 27 per cent more people who have got melanoma, and that is a dramatic increase. In the last year, we have seen the increase only in men, says Stenstadvold Ross.

In general, more men than women get skin cancer and mole cancer.

– Traditionally, men have been less concerned with sun protection than women. There are also more men than women who die from skin cancer, probably because men are later than women to see a doctor with a skin change, says Stenstadvold Ross.

Temperatures of up to 20 degrees have already been reported for the weekend, and she reminds people that people must take sun protection seriously.

– It’s never too late to get good sun habits. It’s about doing what many people actually know, to limit the time we are in the strong rays of the sun, protect ourselves with clothes and something on the head, and to use sunscreen, she says.

In addition to Agder, Vestfold, Telemark and Vestland raise the average for how many people out of 100,000 per year are diagnosed with melanoma for the first time. The figures NTB has received from the Cancer Registry show that Viken and Oslo are also slightly above average.

In recent decades, skin cancer has increased sharply in populations with fair skin types, and the incidence in Norway is among the highest in the world, according to The Cancer Registry. Before the age of 50, the incidence of mole cancer is highest among women, after the age of 50, however, the reverse is true.

(© NTB)

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